US demolishes Pakistan's claim that Masood Azhar is "missing"
Pakistan hasn't expressed the will to act against terrorists functioning from its soil and has continued to provide a safe haven to regionally focused terrorist groups, the US State Department said in a report released on Wednesday. The report razed Pakistan's claim that Jaish-e-Mohammad founder, Masood Azhar, is missing. The UN-designated terrorist, the report said, remains "free in Pakistan".
The report was released by Mike Pompeo
The report, released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, underscored that "Islamabad has yet to take decisive actions against India - and Afghanistan-focused militants". Along with Azhar, whose outfit orchestrated the dastardly Pulwama Attack, the report said Pakistan didn't crack down on Sajid Mir either. Mir played an important role in the 2008 Mumbai attack, wherein 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba members entered the city, killing over 150.
US noted Pakistan indicted LeT's Hafiz Saeed and his associates
The State Department pointed out that the financial aid for Pakistan, which President Donald Trump suspended in January 2018, remained in place throughout 2019. Pakistan acted against externally-focused outfits and indicted LeT boss Hafiz Saeed and his 12 aides in three terrorism financing cases, the report added. "However, Pakistan remained a safe harbor for other regionally focused terrorist groups," the report went on.
Outfits targeting India and Afghanistan were allowed to operate
The US said Pakistan let groups targeting Afghanistan and India flourish. Afghani Taliban, the Haqqani Network (HQN), Jaish, and LeT operated from its soil. "It 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," the State Department said.
Pakistan took "modest steps" against terrorism in 2019
"Pakistan took modest steps in 2019 to counter terror financing and restrain India-focused militant groups from conducting large-scale attacks following the February attack on a security convoy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir linked to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)," the report added.
Notably, Pakistan was supposed to dismantle terror outfits in 2015
The Congressional-mandated annual report, 2019 Country Reports on Terrorism, said Pakistan has still not fulfilled its 2015 pledge to dismantle all terror outfits without "delay and discrimination". About Prime Minister Imran Khan, the State Department said his government and the country's military "acted inconsistently with respect to terrorist safe havens throughout the country". No sufficient action was taken, US said.
US noted Pakistan played a role in Afghanistan peace process
However, the State Department noted that Pakistan contributed to the Afghanistan peace process. The presence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan has degraded substantially. But the important figures among the outfit's global leadership and the regional affiliate al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) worked from remote locations, the report said. To note, Pakistan featured in the terrorist safe havens list of the report.
FATF continued to keep Pakistan in grey list
After the US' report was released, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) declared that Pakistan will remain on the greylist till October, when its status will be up for revision again. The decision, taken in the virtual plenary meeting due to coronavirus pandemic, stemmed from the fact that Pakistan didn't stop the cash flow of groups like LeT and Jaish. FATF has warned Pakistan several times.