America’s Concessions to the Taliban and Pakistan Only Encourage Terrorism

February 25, 2020 | Michael Rubin
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On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. has come to “an understanding” with the Taliban, which he expects will soon result in a signed agreement and a withdrawal of American forces. Michael Rubin, citing as precedent the extensive negotiations with the Islamist group in the late 1990s—during which Washington received repeated assurances that Afghanistan would not become a safe haven for terrorists—is skeptical that the newest agreement will achieve its desired effect:

Here are the basic problems with the Taliban deal: the withdrawal [of U.S. forces] is not calibrated to the success of intra-Afghan dialogue; . . . there is no mechanism to prevent the Taliban from playing good-cop, bad-cop by simultaneously holding out an olive branch while ordering supposedly rogue units to attack—a tactic Iran has used for 40 years.

Worst of all, the agreement ignores Pakistan and its continuing efforts to undermine an elected Afghan government at peace with itself and its neighbors.

Meanwhile, adds Rubin, the Financial Action Task Force—an international body for combating money-laundering and terror finance—recently decided, at Washington’s urging, not to sanction Pakistan:

Rather than taking action against designated [terrorist] groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba—which calls Pakistan home and is responsible for a number of bombings and massacres, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks [on a hotel and Jewish center]—the Pakistani government instead sought to win exceptions for Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front groups. Rather than incarcerating terror leaders from Lashkar-e-Taiba, al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and the Haqqani Network, it simply created revolving-door justice, slapping sentences on them to appease foreign diplomats and to collect billions of dollars in aid, but then quietly letting them go just months later.

Pakistan looks at such actions and concludes that not only can it get away with murder, but that it can simultaneously get the Trump administration to pay it to do so. If Pakistan can host Osama bin Laden—and never hold any of its officials accountable for that duplicity—and support groups responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans and still face no consequences, then Islamabad has no incentive to stop supporting terrorism and extremist groups.

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