Mr. Speaker, when our forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the goal was simple: remove the Taliban government that sheltered the plotters of the 9/11 attacks on America, and destroy al-Qaida. Nearly 16 years later, Afghanistan is still a haven for terrorists who seek to attack and kill Americans. Since then, the Taliban has waged an insurgency in Afghanistan, destabilizing the country, creating perfect conditions for terrorists to exploit.
The Taliban and al-Qaida have launched many of their attacks in Afghanistan from Pakistan. Taliban insurgency is stronger today than at any other point since 2001. Just last week, a Taliban sneak attack killed more than 160 Afghan soldiers, prompting the defense minister and army chief of staff to resign. But the Taliban don’t just stage attacks, they seize territory.
The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction said in January that 172 Afghan districts are controlled, influenced, or contested by the Taliban. AlQaida has a long history of loyalty to the Taliban. Osama bin Laden swore his allegiance to the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Omar, even before 9/11.
When bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, Ayman al-Zawahiri renewed that oath and cemented ties between al-Qaida and the Taliban. Wherever the Taliban has influence, we can be sure that alQaida is not far behind. Since 2010, U.S. officials have incorrectly claimed that al-Qaida had a small presence in the country limited only to 50 to 100 fighters.
Then, in 2015, a shocking U.S. raid in Afghanistan uncovered a massive al-Qaida training camp, rounding up over 150 al-Qaida terrorists. This was more fighters found in one raid than the U.S. officials claimed existed in the entire country. And by the end of last year, U.S. officials announced that 250 al-Qaida terrorists were killed or captured in 2016 alone.
Along with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, we have the other terrorist group, the Haqqani Network. This group is directly linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Haqqani Network is responsible for more American deaths in the region than any other terrorist group. The Haqqani Network attacks inside Afghanistan have been directly traced back to—you guessed it—Pakistan.
In fact, in 2011, Admiral Mike Mullen, then-chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate: ‘‘The Haqqani Network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency.’’ The truth is that Pakistan has ties to about every terrorist group in Afghanistan. And we know that the Taliban is still based in Pakistan today.
It came as no surprise that when the U.S. drone strike killed the leader of the Taliban in 2016, he was—that is right—in Pakistan. The laundry list of evidence of Pakistan support for terrorists goes on an on. We all remember where al-Qaida leader and America’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, was found and killed: in Pakistan.
Afghanistan’s representative to the U.N. recently told the Security Council that Pakistan maintains ties with more than 20 different terrorist groups. Mr. Speaker, Pakistan is playing us. Pakistan turns a blind eye to the terrorist allies, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network fighters in the area.
The Pakistan Taliban fighters ended up becoming the leaders of the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, known as ISIS Khorasan province. ISIS announced their Afghan affiliate in January 2015, and now has entrenched itself in the eastern part of the country. For the first time ever, the military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, earlier this month on ISIS targets in Afghanistan.
It is no surprise that Afghanistan is a hotbed for terrorist mischief groups, all related to Pakistan. That is what Pakistan has always wanted: a weak and divided Afghanistan that threatens the United States. Mr. Speaker, it is time we reassess our Pakistan policy so that it matches Pakistan’s behavior in Afghanistan.
We need to call Pakistan out. We must reduce aid to the two-faced Pakistan Government. We don’t need to pay them to betray us. We must designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, and we must remove their major non-NATO ally status. In the war on terror, it is crystal clear Pakistan is not on America’s side.
And that is just the way it is.