Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pakistan among countries providing 'safe havens' to terrorists: US

The US on Wednesday for the first time in recent years came down heavily on Pakistan for aiding terror groups JeM and LeT including providing safe havens to terrorists, an action described by India as a vindication of its long-standing position on the menace of cross-border terrorism in the region. 

The US administration’s position was reflected in its annual ‘Country Report on Terrorism’. This comes, according to the report, after Indian and US leaders directed officials to identify new areas of collaboration through the July US-India Counterterrorism 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 segments in South and Central Asia in the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 vindicate India’s long-standing position on the menace of cross-border terrorism in our region,” senior sources told ET. 

The State Department listed Pakistan as one of the safe havens of terrorism. In its report to the Congress, the State Department said in 2016, India and the United States pledged to 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 (Pakistan) government did not take any significant action against LeT or JeM, other than implementing an ongoing ban against media coverage of their activities. LeT and JeM continued to hold rallies, raise money, recruit, and train in Pakistan,” according to the report. 

The US comments in the report comes close on the heels of designation of Hizbul Chief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist. “Afghanistan, in particular, continued to experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN) and other insurgent and terrorist groups. A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan...,” observed the report. 

Pakistan is a member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Pakistan criminalizes terrorist financing. However, there has not been a significant number of prosecutions or convictions of terrorist financing cases reported by Pakistan in recent years due to a lack of resources and capacity within investigative and judicial bodies. 

The report comes close on the heels of US imposing tougher conditions for reimbursement of defence funding to Pakistan.

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