In a move that risks reopening deep fissures in relations with Pakistan, the Obama administration will designate the deadliest Afghan insurgent group as a foreign terrorist organization, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress Friday.

The decision to designate the Haqqani network, a Taliban-allied extremist organization based on Pakistan’s side of the mountainous border with Afghanistan, was made under pressure from Congress and avoids Republican election-year criticism that the administration is too accommodating toward Pakistan.

But it also could open the way, some analysts warned, to the U.S. eventually designating Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism because of the alleged close ties between the Haqqanis and Pakistan’s top intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI. Such a move, which senior State Department officials stressed is not being considered, could jeopardize Pakistan’s cooperation with the Obama administration’s goal of withdrawing all U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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