The bill (HR 80) was introduced by Congressman Andy Biggs, who represents the fifth Congressional district of Arizona. The district is in the heart of the East Valley and includes most of Mesa, Chandler, Queen Creek and Gilbert. The district has a growing population of Pakistani Americans, among other South Asian communities.
The bill has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary actions. It needs to be passed by the House and the Senate before it can be signed into law by the US President. The US Congress traditionally receives thousands of. resolutions and. bills, but a fraction of them actually become law. Biggs’s bill may end up in the archive of thousands of bills that never became law but it does raise questions about Pakistan’s diplomacy in Washington.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto has frequented Washington more than any other foreign leader in his position in recent months with limited success in lobbying for Pakistan. His engagements in the US capital seemed more focused on visiting think tanks than the US Capitol. The new ambassador Masood Khan, who has been more active and outgoing on Washington’s diplomatic circuit, is too new to diplomacy inside the Beltway as an ambassador to be judged for quick results.
For any further continuation of Pakistan’s designation as a major non-NATO ally, the bill asks the US president to issue a certification that the country has shown progress in arresting and prosecuting Haqqani Network senior leaders and mid-level operatives and has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to preventing the Haqqani Network from using any Pakistani territory as a safe haven.
The bill also wants a certification from the US President that Pakistan actively coordinates with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants, such as the Haqqani Network, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
This is the second anti-Pakistan legislation introduced in the House in recent months. In October last year, two US Congressmen, including Rep Rohit Khanna (D) – an Indian American, tabled a resolution in Congress charging Pakistan with the ethnic cleansing of millions of Bengalis and Hindus in East Pakistan in 1971.
Pakistan has a poor lobbying record on the US Capitol. It was able to create a Pakistan Caucus in the Congress during General Pervez Musharraf’s government. Led by congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, the caucus simply faded away with no visible effort to revive it.