NEW DELHI: Despite the global condemnation and pressure it faced following Pulwama attack last year, Pakistan continues to be a safe haven for terror groups and took only ‘modest steps’ to curb terror financing and prevent India-focused militant groups from carrying out attacks, a US State Department report has revealed.
“Pakistan took modest steps in 2019 to counter terror financing and restrain India-focused militant groups from conducting large-scale attacks following the February attack on a security convoy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir linked to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM),” the report said. In its Congress-mandated annual report on 2019 Country Reports on Terrorism, the US State Department said Pakistan took action against some externally focused groups citing the indictment of Lashkar e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and his associates in three terrorism financing cases.
“However, Pakistan remained a safe harbour for other regionally focused terrorist groups,” it said. According to the report, Islamabad did not take any action against other designated terrorists like JeM founder Maulana Masood Azhar and Mumbai terror attack accused Sajid Mir. The report also accuses Pakistan of allowing groups targeting Afghanistan and India, such as the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Network, LeT and JeM, to operate from its territory.
The report say Islamabad made some positive contributions in the Afghanistan peace process and also in complying with the Action Plan provided to it by terror financing watchdog FATF to avoid being blacklisted. “However, it did not complete the action plan,” it said. Noting that the operations of the al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Indian sub-continent were seriously hampered, the report said leaders of the outfit continue to operate from remote locations in a region that has served ‘historically a safe haven’ for them.
It said despite Islamabad’s National Action Plan, which ensures no armed militia functions in the country, many terror groups that focus on attacks outside the country continue to operate from its soil. “The government and military acted inconsistently with respect to terrorist safe havens throughout the country. Authorities did not take sufficient action to stop certain terrorist groups and individuals from openly operating in the country,” the State Department report said.
It also noted that the suspension of aid to Pakistan announced in 2018 by US President Donald Trump continued to be in force throughout 2019. “However, a recalibration of our civilian assistance portfolio was implemented in 2019 to target a narrower set of priority areas: people-to-people exchanges, law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation, ...fostering trade and economic growth, supporting civil society and helping treat polio and other infectious diseases,” the report said.