An online petition launched by Indian-Americans on the official website of the White House, asking for Pakistan to be declared as a state sponsor of terrorism has crossed 100,000 signatures in a week, thereby qualifying for a response from the Barack Obama administration.
The online petition was created on September 21, just days after the Uri attack in Jammu and Kashmir and has become the third most popular petition on the White House website with close to 123,000 signatures. While the deadline to reach the mark of 100,000 signatures is four weeks, this petition reached the mark in just a week, making it one of the most popular petitions on the website. The Obama administration is expected to respond in the next 60 days.
According to the petition “it is important to the people of United State of America, India and many other countries which are continuously affected by Pakistan sponsored terrorism.”
An initiative by the US President Barack Obama, “We the People” online petition at the White House website provides a platform to American citizens to campaign before his administration on a particular issue.
Topping the list is the petition seeking to stop the construction of “Dakota Access Pipeline” with over 210,000 signatures followed by another petition seeking not to make “Kratom a schedule I substance” with over 137,000 signatures.
Congressman Ted Poe who is a Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, along with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who is a ranking member of the influential Congressional Committee on Terrorism, introduced the ‘Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act’ in the House of Representatives.
“It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is, a state sponsor of terrorism… Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years… From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror. And it’s not America’s,” Poe said.
Meanwhile, the White House said that it was working on enhancing its counter-terrorism capabilities with Pakistan.
White House Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said that the US believes India and Pakistan really stand to benefit from the normalization of relations. “We encourage both India and Pakistan to pursue and engage in direct dialogue that is aimed at reducing tensions,” he said.
“We have a deep and broad bilateral relationship and multilateral relationship, or work our multilateral issues with India. They are the world’s largest democracy and we share a very similar vision of the world. And we obviously have very close trade and economic ties with India, and also that extends to security cooperation,” he said.
“Similarly, we want to see Pakistan better able to respond to the threat that terrorism poses and terrorist groups that seek refuge in its territory,” Mr Toner added
“Our focus with Pakistan is to enhance their capability and to deal with terrorist threats on their soil. They are fighting a serious and sustained campaign against violent extremism. We do believe that they are making progress and taking steps to counter terrorist violence, but at the same time we have been very clear that they need to target all terrorist groups, including those that target Pakistan’s neighbors, and close all safe havens,” White House Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said.