US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has formally designated the Haqqani Network a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ in her report to US Congress. Supporters of the move argued that this would help strangle its fundraising in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and pressurize the Pakistani military into launching a long-expected operation against the network, which is based within North Waziristan. Unfortunately, Pakistan Embassy’s response, which appeared in The Washington Post, has been that it was merely the USA’s internal matter and that the members of the network were not Pakistani citizens. This appears to ignore the fact that the network is on Pakistani soil, and if its members are not Pakistani citizens, either they are there illegally, or have valid visas. In either case, Pakistan should not need US help or interference. Illegals must be sent back to their country of origin by the relevant Pakistani authorities, while even foreigners who are staying validly enjoy the full protection of the law. Some circles have expressed the view that this step would merely spoil relations between the two countries, which have been rocky because of the various events of 2011, whether the Raymond Davis affair, the Abbottabad raid or the Salala massacre. The Haqqani Network spokesman pointed out the basic contradiction in the US action: whereas the network has been declared a terrorist organisation by the USA, it also expected it to play a role in the peace process. Pakistan must read very carefully in this affair. If the network goes into protest mode against the government because of this move, the government would face a strong backlash, not so much because the network is popular as because it is a symbol of anti-US feeling. However, it is s painful truth that US actions have led to this feeling among Pakistanis. The USA would bear much of this backlash, but so would Pakistan.It is not a matter of protecting the Haqqani Network, as of national sovereignty. Pakistan must measure the matter by the rule of law. It must ensure that the USA is also obliged to follow Pakistani law in this matter, or it could find the situation blowing up in its face. It will have to handle the fall-out of that, not the USA, which takes the situation from the USA’s internal affair to Pakistan’s. If the highest echelons of government take such a casual attitude, so will its servants, and the USA will once again get away with treating Pakistan like a colony, because its government lets it do so.