Washington: The United States on Wednesday listed Pakistan among nations that provide “safe heavens” to terrorists to operate. It also stated that India continued to be a victim of attacks “including by Maoist insurgents and Pakistan-based terrorists”. In its annual ‘Country Report on Terrorism’, the State Department said that terror outfits like Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad continued to operate, train, organise and fundraise in Pakistan 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,” it said. “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,” it noted.
According to the State Department, the Pakistani government did not publicly reverse its December 2015 declaration that neither JuD nor FiF is banned in Pakistan, despite their listing under UN sanctions regimes, although in January 2017, Pakistan placed both organisations “under observation” pursuant to Schedule Two of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The State Department also said that Pakistan did not take sufficient action against the extremely focused groups that continued to exist in the country. “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.” It also said that Pakistani military and security forces undertook operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.
According to the State Department, India and United States continued to seek and strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including al-Qaeda, the ISIS, JeM, LeT and D-Company (Dawood Ibrahim’s group), including through greater collaboration on designations at the UN. 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 said.
Leaders from both the countries directed officials to identify new areas of collaboration through the July US-India Counter-terrorism Joint Working Group, applauded finalisation of a bilateral arrangement to facilitate the sharing of terrorism screening information, and called upon Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of terrorist attacks against India to justice, the report said. The countries also worked together to designate JeM leader Maulana Masood Azhar, although the listing was blocked in the UN 1267 Committee, the State Department said.
Other areas 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.