WASHINGTON: The US on Wednesday said the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba terror groups continue to pose a regional threat and that Pakistan did not adequately address America’s concerns on terrorism in 2017.
Although al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been seriously degraded, remnants of its 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 have been exploited as safe havens, the US State Department said in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism for the year 2017.
“Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba continued to pose a regional threat in the subcontinent,” it said.
The report notes that from August to December 2017, the Trump administration placed a pause on spending new Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan, holding these funds until Pakistan addressed key US concerns, including the threat posed by the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups that enjoyed safe haven with Pakistan. “Pakistan did not adequately address these concerns in 2017,” said the report.
Although Pakistan’s National Action Plan calls to “ensure that no armed militias are allowed to function in the country,” several terrorist groups focused on attacks outside of the country continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2017, it said.
These groups included the Haqqani Network, besides the LeT and JeM which are directed against India.
Though Pakistan continued military operations to eradicate terrorist safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, their impact on all terrorist groups was uneven, said the State Department report.
According to the report, the Pakistani military and security forces undertook operations against groups that conducted attacks within Pakistan, such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
Even as the Pakistani government pledged support to political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban it did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network from operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan did not take sufficient action against other externally focused groups such as Lashkar e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in 2017, which continued to operate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan,” the report said.
Pakistan detained Hafiz Saeed, leader of LeT and its front organisation Jamaat ud-Dawa (JuD), in January 2017, but a Pakistani court ordered his release from house arrest in November 2017, it said.
In its report, the State Department rued that progress remained slow on the Pakistan government’s efforts to implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and enforce anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) controls.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), it said, continued to note with concern that Pakistan’s outstanding gaps in the implementation of the UN Security Council ISIS and al-Qaeda sanctions regime have not been resolved, and that UN-listed entities – including LeT and its affiliates – were not effectively prohibited from raising funds in Pakistan, nor were they denied financial services.
“Although Pakistan’s laws technically comply with international anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism standards, authorities failed to uniformly implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and individuals such as LeT and its affiliates, which continued to make use of economic resources and raise funds,” it said.