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Foreign Office Rejects U.S. Claims on Terrorism in Pakistan

by Newsweek Pakistan

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In its annual report, U.S. State Department had alleged Islamabad has failed to act against militants targeting India and Afghanistan

Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday rejected a report issued by the U.S. State Department in which Washington had accused Islamabad of continuing to allow “safe havens” for a select number of regional terror groups.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said that the U.S. State Department’s Annual Country Report on Terrorism for 2019, had been “self-contradictory” and “selective” in its claims that Pakistan was allowing groups that targeted India and Afghanistan to operate from its soil. “We are disappointed with the U.S. State Department’s Annual Country Report on Terrorism for 2019, which is self-contradictory and selective in its characterization of Pakistan’s efforts for countering terrorism and terrorist financing,” read the statement.

The U.S. report has alleged that Pakistan is continuing to provide safe haven to groups such as the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliated groups, and Jaish-e-Muhammad. “Pakistan took modest steps in 2019 to counter terror financing and to restrain some India-focused militant groups following the February attack on a security convoy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir claimed by Pakistan-based JeM,” read the report, adding that Islamabad had not yet taken any “decisive actions” against “Indian and Afghanistan-focused militants who would undermine their operational capability.”

The Foreign Office said that the report overlooked the role played by Pakistan in brokering a deal between the Afghan Taliban and the U.S. It also claimed that while the report acknowledged that Al Qaeda had lost ground in the South Asian region, it did not recognize Pakistan’s role in achieving this.

According to the Foreign Office, the report acknowledged the decrease in terror attacks within Pakistan, but “neglects to explain that this was only possible because Pakistan’s resolute counter-terrorism operations have targeted proscribed groups and outfits without discrimination.” It added: “We reject any insinuation about any safe haven. Pakistan will not allow any group or entity to use its territory against any country.”

The statement said that it was actually Pakistan that continued to face terror threats from externally based and foreign sponsored groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic State. It said that the U.S. report was “again either silent or vague on the origins and locations of these terrorist groups.”

“Pakistan also continues to implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plan, and has undertaken wide-ranging and systemic reforms to that end. While it notes the progress made by Pakistan under the action plan, the report did not capture the political commitment, revamping of Pakistan’s AML/CFT [anti-money laundering/combating finance terrorism] regime, and our consistent and sustainable actions which have also been recognized by FATF,” claimed the FO. “Pakistan hopes that future U.S. reports will fully acknowledge the entire spectrum of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts and present a fair and correct perspective of this global threat,” it added.

Ties between Pakistan and the U.S. have long been fraught due to Washington accusing Islamabad of providing safe harbor to terror groups. Matters reached a low point in January 2018, when U.S, President Donald Trump cut over $1.1 billion in security assistance to Pakistan after accusing it of supporting the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has always denied the accusations, despite elements of the Afghan Taliban being based out of Quetta for several years.

Pakistan also remains on a “grey-list” maintained by the FATF, a global body that monitors member states’ compliance with anti-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering regulations.

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