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Pakistan continues to serve as a safe haven for terror groups: US State Dept

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 25 Jun 2020

Pakistan continues to serve as a safe haven for terror groups: US State Dept

Washignton: Pakistan continued to serve as a safe haven for certain regionally focused terrorist groups, observed the US State Department in its 2019 Country report on terrorism released on Wednesday.

"It allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organizations, and JeM, to operate from its territory," the Department said.

Pakistan took modest steps in 2019 to counter terror financing and to restrain some India-focused militant groups following the February attack on a security convoy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir claimed by Pakistan-based JeM, the report said.

Thus far, however, Islamabad has yet to take decisive actions against Indian- and Afghanistan-focused militants who would undermine their operational capability. 

The Pakistani government also played a constructive role in U.S.-Taliban talks in 2019. 

"Pakistan’s progress on the most difficult aspects of its 2015 National Action Plan to counter terrorism remains unfulfilled – specifically its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organizations without delay and discrimination," read the statement.

While Pakistani authorities indicted LeT co-founder Hafiz Saeed and 12 of his associates on December 11, they have made no effort to use domestic authorities to prosecute other terrorist leaders such as JeM founder Masood Azhar and Sajid Mir, the mastermind of LeT’s 2008 Mumbai attacks, both of whom are widely believed to reside in Pakistan under the protection of the state, despite government denials.

"Pakistan experienced significant terrorist threats in 2019, although the number of attacks and casualties was lower than in 2018, continuing an overall year-on-year decline.  Major terrorist groups focused on conducting attacks in Pakistan included Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban) and ISIS-K," read the statement.

Separatist militant groups conducted terrorist attacks against varied targets in Balochistan and Sindh provinces.  Terrorists used a range of tactics to attack individuals, markets, police checkpoints, and places of worship, including IEDs, VBIEDs, suicide bombings, and targeted assassinations.

"In June 2018, the FATF placed Pakistan on its 'gray list' and issued an Action Plan directing Pakistan to take specific steps by September 2019 to address strategic deficiencies in its CFT efforts," read the statement.

The FATF expressed serious concern at its October 2019 plenary about Pakistan’s continued deficiencies but noted it had made some progress and extended the deadline for full Action Plan implementation to February 2020.