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India welcomes US move to list Pakistan among nations providing ‘safe havens’ to terrorists

LiveMint logoLiveMint 20-07-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: India has welcomed US action listing Pakistan among the nations and regions providing “safe havens” to terrorists, saying US State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism vindicated India’s long-held view that Pakistan was providing safe havens for terrorists on its soil.

“The segments in the South And Central Asia section in the US State Department’s Country reports on Terrorism in 2016 vindicate India’s long standing position on the menace of cross border terrorism in our region,” a person familiar with the development said.

In a blow to Pakistan late Wednesday, the US State Department’s Country Report said that terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) continued to operate, train, organise and raise resources inside Pakistan in 2016.

The report uses language like “safe havens” used in previous reports but it does boost India’s diplomatic claims that Pakistan is turning a blind eye to terror groups based on its soil that are targeting India.

India has seen three major attacks on its military installations in Pathakot, Uri and Nagrota last year—all blamed on the LeT and the JeM—and New Delhi has been pushing Pakistan to take action against these groups operating from its soil.

It comes after a meeting between US president Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House last month. The Trump administration had designated Syed Salahuddin as a terrorist coinciding with the visit.

The annual report, which is mandated by the US Congress, also said that Pakistani military and security forces cracked down on terrorist groups that carried out attacks within Pakistan such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

But “Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or Haqqani, or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan, although Pakistan supported efforts to bring both groups into an Afghan-led peace process,” the State Department said.

India, it noted, continued to experience attacks, “including by Maoist insurgents and Pakistan-based terrorists”.

Indian authorities continued to blame Pakistan for cross-border attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, the report said.

“In January, India experienced a terrorist attack against an Indian military facility in Pathankot, Punjab, which was blamed by authorities on JeM. Over the course of 2016, the Government of India sought to deepen counterterrorism cooperation and information sharing with the United States,” the State Department said.

In a separate chapter, the State Department listed Pakistan as one of the safe havens of terrorism. Many terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network (HQN), the LeT and JeM continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2016, it said.

“Although the LeT is banned in Pakistan, the LeT’s wings—the Jammat ud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FiF)—were able to openly engage in fundraising, including in the capital,” it said.

“LeT’s chief Hafiz Saaed (a UN-designated terrorist) continued to address large rallies, although in February 2017, Pakistan proscribed him under relevant provisions of Schedule Four of the Anti-Terrorism Act, thus severely restricting his freedom of movement,” it noted.

“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,” it said.

The Indian government continued to closely monitor the domestic threat from transnational terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which made threats against India in their terrorist propaganda. A number of individuals were arrested for ISIS-affiliated recruitment and attack plotting within India, the report said.

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