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US: Pakistan continues to serve as safe haven for terrorist groups

This time a US state department report on terrorism has said that Pakistan continues to serve as a safe haven for terrorist groups. It says that the Pak based terror groups are mainly focused on targeting India and Afghanistan. While Afghanistan suffers from terror outfits like Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, India is facing security threats from Laskar E Taiyaba and Jaish e Mohammad, all operating from Pakistani territory.

The report, referring last year’s Pulwama terror attack, mentions how Pakistan came under heavy pressure and had to against the terrorists operating from its soil.  However, these steps remain modest and Islamabad has not taken any decisive actions to undermine the operational capability of the Anti India terror outfits.

The reports indicate how the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attack  Masood Azhar and Sajid Mir are enjoying state protection in Pakistan. While the authorities there indicted LeT co-founder Hafiz Saeed and 12 of his associates in  December, No effort was made to prosecute other terrorist leaders such including  Masood Azhar and Sajid Mir.

Almost 5 years ago Pakistan had announced the 2015 National Action Plan to counter terrorism however the report says, progress on the most difficult aspects of it remains unfulfilled, specifically its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organizations. Pakistan’s deep nexus to terror financing landed it in the “grey list” of  FATF two years ago. The world’s anti-terror-financing watchdog issued an Action Plan directing Pakistan to take specific steps to avoid being placed in Blacklist of the organization. Even then, during the October 2019 plenary the FATF expressed serious concern about Pakistan’s continued deficiencies but further extended the deadline for full Action Plan implementation to February 2020.

Pakistan is designated as a “Country of Particular Concern”  3 years in a row under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.  The radicalization of youth starts at an early age. The state department report says that some madrassas in Pakistan reportedly continue to teach “extremist” doctrine. Many madrassas failed to register with the government or provide documentation of their sources of funding.

From radicalization of its youth to training and arming them for anti-India activities, Pakistan continues to keep terror outfits as part of its statecraft. The report of the US state department is merely a vindication of what the Indian government has been trying to tell the world loud and clear for years.

Abhishek Jha

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