The United States has once again accused Pakistan of not taking significant action against the militant outfits and accusing them of operating from “Pakistan-based safe havens” to threaten the US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
The US State Department, in its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016” released on Wednesday, said Islamabad has failed to take significant action to constrain the ability of the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network to operate from “Pakistan-based safe havens”.
It mentioned the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-i-Tayyiba (LT), and Jaish-i-Muhammad (JM) as “groups located in Pakistan, but focused on conducting attacks outside the country”.
The report accused that the government did not take any significant action against Jaish-i-Muhammad (JM) or Lashkar-i-Taiba (LT), “other than implementing an ongoing ban against media coverage of their activities”.
“LT and JM continued to hold rallies, raise money, recruit, and train in Pakistan,” it maintained.
“The government has not joined the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, although it designated ISIS as a terrorist organisation in 2015. Police and security forces detained and killed a substantial number of ISIS-affiliated terrorists,” the report said.
The US State Department in its report, however, termed Pakistan an important partner. “Pakistan remained an important counterterrorism partner in 2016,” the report read, adding that the government supported political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.
Shedding light on the domestic front, the report viewed that violent extremist groups targeted civilians, officials, and religious minorities in the country.
“Major terrorist groups focused on conducting terrorist attacks in Pakistan included the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamaat‑ul‑Ahrar (JuA), and the sectarian group LeJ. The militant group Islamic State’s (IS) Khorasan Province claimed several major attacks against Pakistani targets, likely conducted in collaboration with other terrorist groups,” the report reads.
Progress of security agencies
The data mentioned in the report also shows a significant reduction in the number of terrorism-related civilian deaths in Pakistan in 2016. Some 600 such deaths were reported in 2016, far lower than the peak years of 2012 and 2013, when terrorist acts killed more than 3,000 civilians each year (according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal), it added.
Terrorists used a range of tactics – stationary and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide bombings, targeted assassinations, and rocket-propelled grenades – to attack individuals, schools, markets, government institutions, and places of worship, the report reads.
The US State Department said that the Pakistani government continued to implement the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism, but with “uneven results”.
“Progress remained slow on regulating madrassas, blocking extremist messaging, empowering the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), cutting off terrorist financing, and strengthening the judicial system,” read the report.
Despite its extensive security infrastructure, the country suffered major attacks, particularly in Balochistan, it added. -DN