The United States already has imposed sanctions on the Haqqani network’s leaders, but the new designation will freeze the group’s assets, complicate their regional fund-raising operations and push U.S. allies to follow suit with their own measures, U.S. officials said.
The Haqqani network’s fund-raising tentacles extend beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan to Islamic charities and businesses, including car dealerships and money exchanges in Arab countries, according to experts.
“We also continue our robust campaign of diplomatic, military, and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating the United States’ resolve to degrade the organization’s ability to execute violent attacks,” Clinton said in a statement.
The senior administration official said that top Pakistani civilian and military leaders didn’t object when they were briefed on the Haqqani designation over the past several weeks.
But others were skeptical that Pakistan would view the designation warmly. Hasan Askari Rizvi, a defense analyst based in Lahore, Pakistan, predicted U.S.-Pakistani relations would sour, hurting the administration’s long-shot efforts to draw the Taliban into peace talks.
“On the one hand, the U.S. wants to negotiate with the Taliban. On the other hand, they designate the strongest group in the Taliban as terrorists,” Rizvi said. “The effort to negotiate is going to be undermined.”
A U.S. official countered that U.S. laws don’t prohibit U.S. officials from meeting or conducting talks with members of a designated terrorist group.
An expert on Pakistan who teaches at Georgetown University in Washington said it was understandable that Pakistan officials had not objected to the designation.
“If they objected, it would basically substantiate the claim that the Pakistanis support them. They have to take a position of indifference,” said assistant professor Christine Fair.
She suggested that the designation might mean little for U.S.-Pakistani relations “unless it opens the door for designating Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.”
“And there’s pressure in Congress to do just that,” she added.
Special correspondent Saeed Shah contributed from Pakistan. Matt Schofield contributed from Washington.