Pakistan provides safe havens to terrorists, says US

RSTV Bureau
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaks to reporters outside the premises of the Joint Investigation Team, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, June 15, 2017. Sharif appeared before a Supreme Court-appointed team investigating allegations against his family's offshore companies and money laundering.AP/PTI

File photo of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. AP/PTI

The US has listed Pakistan among the nations that provide “safe havens” to terrorists.The US accused Pakistan of letting terror groups like LeT and JeM to operate, train, organise and fundraise within its territory.

In its annual ‘Country Report on Terrorism’, the State Department said that the Pakistani military and security forces undertook operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan but, “Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or Haqqani, or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan, although Pakistan supported efforts to bring both groups into an Afghan-led peace process. ”

“Pakistan did not take sufficient action against other externally focused groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in 2016, which continued to operate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan,” the report State Department report said.

The report listed Pakistan as one of the safe havens of terrorism. It also said that numerous terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network (HQN), the LeT and JeM continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2016.

“Although LeT is banned in Pakistan, LeT’s wings Jamaat- ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) were able to openly engage in fundraising, including in the capital…LeT’s chief Hafiz Saeed (a UN-designated terrorist) continued to address large rallies, although in February 2017, Pakistan proscribed him under relevant provisions of Schedule Four of the Anti-Terrorism Act, thus severely restricting his freedom of movement,” the report said.

File photo: President Donald Trump gives thumbs up as he arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), on  Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md.

File photo of US President Donald Trump

The US also accused Pakistan of selectively acting against terrorist organisations.

On November 11, Pakistan’s National Counterterrorism Authority published its own list of banned organisations that placed JuD in a separate section for groups that are “under observation” but not banned, the report stated.

Pakistan continued military operations to eradicate terrorist safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, although their impact on all terrorist groups was uneven, it said.

The State Department report to the Congress also said that India continued to experience attacks by “Pakistan-based terrorists” and Indian authorities continued to blame Pakistan for cross-border attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

“In January, India experienced a terrorist attack against an Indian military facility in Pathankot, Punjab, which was blamed by authorities on JeM. Over the course of 2016, the Government of India sought to deepen counterterrorism cooperation and information sharing with the United States,” the State Department said.

The Indian government continued to closely monitor the domestic threat from transnational terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which made threats against India in their terrorist propaganda. A number of individuals were arrested for ISIS-affiliated recruitment and attack plotting within India, the report added.

The report also mentions how the United States and India worked together to designate JeM leader Maulana Masood Azhar a terrorist, but the listing was blocked in the UN 1267 Committee.

Other regions mentioned in the report as safe havens are Afghanistan, Somalia, the Trans-Sahara, Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral, Southern Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, Columbia and Venezuela.

(With inputs from agencies)