Pakistan made ‘limited progress’ on pledge to dismantle all terror groups: US State Department
Washington: Pakistan has made “limited progress” in its pledge to dismantle all militant groups operating out of its territory, the US State Department has told Congress in an annual report on global terrorism.
The State Department did acknowledge that Pakistan took steps in 2020 to counter terror-financing and to restrain India-focused militant groups, according to report published on Thursday.
“The Pakistani government also continued to support the Afghan peace process. Pakistan made limited progress on the most difficult aspects of its 2015 National Action Plan to counter terrorism, specifically in its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organisations without delay or discrimination,” it said.
In February and again in November, a Lahore anti-terrorism court convicted Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed on multiple counts of terror-financing and sentenced him to five years and six months in prison.
“At the same time, Pakistan failed to take steps to prosecute other terrorist leaders residing on its land such as Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) founder Masood Azhar and LeT’s Sajid Mir, who is accused as one of the masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks,” the State Department said.
On April 02, the Sindh High Court overturned the 2002 convictions of Omar Sheikh and three co-conspirators for the 2002 kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.
While the Supreme Court of Pakistan sustained the Sindh High Court’s April decision, provincial and federal officials’ appeals continued through the end of the year, the report noted.
The State Department said regionally, terrorist groups continued to operate from Pakistan. “Groups targeting Afghanistan — including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN (Haqqani Network), as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organisations, and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) — continued to operate from Pakistani territory,” it said.
“Pakistan did not take action against other known terrorists such as JeM founder and UN-designated terrorist Masood Azhar and 2008 Mumbai attack ‘project manager’ Sajid Mir, both of whom are believed to remain free in Pakistan,” it said.
Pakistan did make positive contributions to the Afghanistan peace process, such as encouraging Taliban reductions in violence, the report said.
Pakistan made additional progress in 2020 toward completing its Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan, but did not complete all Action Plan terms, and remained on the FATF “grey list”, it added.
According to the report, in 2018, FATF identified Pakistan as a jurisdiction with strategic deficiencies in its Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) system and agreed to an action plan with the government to address deficiencies.
At the October FATF plenary, the member states of the Paris-based group acknowledged Pakistan had largely addressed 21 of its 27 action plan terms and partially addressed the remaining six.
The member states agreed to keep Pakistan on the FATF grey list through FATF’s 2021 plenary, it said.