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June 26, 2020

Pakistan disappointed over ‘self-contradictory’ US report on terrorism

Top Story

June 26, 2020

ISLAMABAD: While rejecting the US State Department’s Annual Country Report on Terrorism for 2019, Pakistan said it is “disappointed” with this report and rejects any insinuation that Pakistan is providing any safe havens to terrorists.

“This is a self-contradictory and selective report in its characterisation of Pakistan’s efforts for countering terrorism and terrorist financing. We reject any insinuation about any safe haven,” the Foreign Office said Thursday.

Pakistan said that the report is again either silent or vague on the origins and locations of these terrorist groups that it is being blamed for.

On Friday the US State Department’s Annual Country Report on Terrorism for 2019 was released in which it pointed out that “Although al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been seriously degraded, key figures among AQ’s global leadership, as well as its regional affiliate al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), continued to operate from remote locations in the region that historically served as safe havens.”

The Foreign Office responded that while the report recognises that al-Qaeda has been seriously degraded in the region, it neglects to mention Pakistan’s crucial role in decimating al-Qaeda, thereby diminishing the threat that the terrorist group once posed to the world.

“Similarly, the report acknowledges the sharp decrease in the incidence of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. However, it neglects to explain that this was only possible because Pakistan’s resolute counter-terrorism operations that targeted proscribed groups and outfits without discrimination,” said the Foreign Office.

The US report blamed Pakistan for remaining a safe harbour for other regionally focused terrorist groups. “It allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organisations, and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), to operate from its territory,” alleged the report.

The US says that Pakistan did not take action against other known terrorists such as JeM founder and UN-designated terrorist Masood Azhar and 2008 Mumbai attack “project manager” Sajid Mir, both of whom are believed to remain free in Pakistan. Pakistan, however, did make some positive contributions to the Afghanistan peace process, such as encouraging Taliban reductions in violence. Pakistan made some progress towards meeting the Action Plan requirements for the FATF, allowing it to avoid being blacklisted, but did not complete all Action Plan items in 2019.

However, the Foreign Office retorted back that Pakistan is fully aware of its responsibilities as a sovereign state. “We reject any insinuation about any safe haven. Pakistan will not allow any group or entity to use its territory against any country. On the contrary, it is Pakistan that faces the threat of terrorism from externally based and foreign sponsored groups, like the TTP, ISIS-K and others. The report is again either silent or vague on the origins and locations of these terrorist groups,” said the Foreign Office.

Pakistan said it remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the UNSC 1267 sanctions regime for the freezing of assets and denial of funds and economic resources to all designated entities and individuals.

“In recent months, Pakistan has prosecuted and convicted the leadership of several proscribed groups, which has been acknowledged by the United States elsewhere but only merit a passing mention in the report,” complained the Foreign Office.

Pakistan also continues to implement the FATF Action Plan, and has undertaken wide-ranging and systemic reforms to that end. “While it notes the progress made by Pakistan under the Action Plan, the report did not capture the political commitment, revamping of Pakistan’s AML/CFT regime, and our consistent and sustainable actions which have also been recognised by FATF,” said the Foreign Office.