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To Get at Taliban, Pressure Pakistan



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To Get at the Taleban, Apply Pressure on Pakistan

International Herald Tribune
Selig S. Harrison
Thursday, March 8, 2001
WASHINGTON The key to ending the threat from Osama bin Laden and the
Taleban
does not lie in Afghanistan but in Pakistan, which keeps the Kabul
regime on
life support with military and economic aid.

Islamabad also promotes Pakistan-based Islamic extremist groups that
have
training camps in Afghanistan and work closely with Mr. bin Laden. The
most
important of these, the Lashkar-e-Taiba or Army of the Pure, is an arm
of
the Taleban secret police, helping to hunt down enemies of the regime.
Outside Afghanistan it is largely responsible for the recent upsurge of
assassinations of moderate Kashmiris seeking to negotiate peace with
India.

Donors of economic aid to Pakistan should actively support enforcement
of UN
Security Council Resolution 1333, which went into effect a month ago
calling
for an end to military support for the Taleban but did not contain
sanctions
for noncompliance. Pakistan has responded predictably by continuing its
military aid while declaring its support for the embargo.
.
In addition to the establishment of UN monitoring machinery, backed by
sanctions, aid donors should use all of their intelligence capabilities
to
do their own monitoring. And the United States should add
Lashkar-e-Taiba to
the 27 other groups on its list of "foreign terrorist organizations."
This
would stop short of putting Pakistan on the U.S. list of states
sponsoring
terrorism, but it would be a warning that such a step is possible.

In its new Anti-Terrorist Act announced last week, the British
government,
after a long internal debate, put Lashkar-e-Taiba on its own list of
terrorist groups.

The Clinton administration debated inconclusively up to its final hours
whether to list it. Such a designation would require a finding by the
Justice Department that the group's activities "threaten the national
security of the United States," including its foreign relations, and
that
this threat can be proved in court without the use of secret
intelligence.

In November the Justice Department did make the necessary finding. But
when
the issue came up at interagency meetings, the CIA objected, arguing
that it
needs to maintain its ties with Pakistani intelligence agencies in order
to
get the scant information that it does get on Mr. bin Laden. The State
Department's South Asian Bureau also argued that General Pervez
Musharraf,
the Pakistani leader, is a moderate doing his best to cooperate on the
bin
Laden issue. He would be undermined if he tried to crack down on
Lashkar-e-Taiba, his defenders say, and might be unseatd by a general
with a
hard-line Islamic agenda.

This is a fallacious argument because General Musharraf has been unable
to
give the United States more than token cooperation on the bin Laden
problem.
He is beholden to a dominant clique of Islamic militants among his
fellow
generals who have encouraged the growth of Lashkar-e-Taiba to make it
hot
for India in Kashmir.

Failing to put the group on the terrorist list gives these hard-liners
carte
blanche. Calling a spade a spade would strengthen General Musharraf in
persuading them that future economic aid to Pakistan will be jeopardized

unless it takes action to curb both the Taleban and Pakistan-based
terrorist
activity.

The IMF recently gave Pakistan its latest $800 million installment of
aid.
Until the government takes effective steps to limit Lashkar-e-Taiba and
allied groups to religious education, the IMF, the United States and
other
aid donors should quietly suspend further aid and further rollovers of
debt.

Advertising such a step would be a mistake because it would inflame
nationalist sentiment. There are other ways. The IMF can insist that
Pakistan meet its aid criteria, especially with respect to tax
collection.
Diplomatic and procedural excuses can be found for stretching out the
timetable for Islamabad's other multilateral aid and for refusing debt
rollovers.

Economic leverage will work only if the donors are patient and united.
Over
time, it offers the best and perhaps the only way to solidify a
consensus
among pragmatic elements in the armed forces, the bureaucracy and
moderate
political forces in Islamabad that terrorism in the name of Islam is
incompatible with Pakistan's survival.

The writer, a senior fellow of The Century Foundation, contributed this
comment to the International Herald Tribune.






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