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Trump’s another Stick Hits Pak

Facing tougher conditions for reimbursement of 400 million dollars defense funds by US, State Department has now identified Pakistan as one of the “terrorist safe havens” in its “country Report on Terrorism 2016” submitted to the Congress. The report was released on Wednesday in Washington.

This is the first such report submitted by the Trump Administration. Similar submissions were made by US intelligence officials to the US Congress a few months ago.

The State Department report said, “Numerous terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network (HQN), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2016. Although LeT is banned in Pakistan, LeT’s wings Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) were able to openly engage in fundraising, including in the capital. LeT’s chief Hafiz Saeed (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 further  said that “The Pakistani government did not publicly reverse its December 2015 declaration that neither JuD nor FiF is banned in Pakistan, despite their listing under UN sanctions regimes, although in January 2017, Pakistan placed both organizations ‘under observation’, pursuant to Schedule Two of the Anti-Terrorism Act. While not a ban, this allows the government to closely scrutinize the activities of both organizations.”

“Pakistan did not take sufficient action against other externally focused groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad in 2016, which continued to operate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan… Groups located in Pakistan, but focused on conducting attacks outside the country, included the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network (HQN), Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM),” it said.

Vindicating India’s stand on Mumbai terror trial, the State Department’s report said, “The trial of seven suspects in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack remained stalled, with many witnesses for the prosecution remaining to be called by the court. The lead defendant, alleged LeT operational commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, remained free on bail.”

Reacting to the report, sources in the Indian government said on Wednesday that the segment on south and Central Asia (of the said report) “vindicate India’s longstanding position on the menace of cross border terrorism in our region.”

The report also said that Indian and US leaders directed officials to identify new areas of collaboration through the counter terrorism Joint working Group and appreciated the finalization of a bilateral agreement to facilitate the sharing of terrorism screening information.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs report on India’s relations with Pakistan, available on its website, says, “It is critical for the security of the region that Pakistan undertakes determined action to dismantle the terrorist networks, organizations and infrastructure within its own territory. However, internationally sanctioned entities such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) continue to function in Pakistan under various aliases. LeT’s leader Hafiz Saeed and his followers also continue to incite violence against India. Moreover, in the recent months, key terrorists such as Masood Azhar and fugitives from Indian law have resurfaced in Pakistan.”

It further says, “Progress in the ongoing Mumbai terror attack case in Pakistan is seen as an important marker of Pakistan’s commitment to combat terrorism emanating from its soil. The trial of seven persons in an Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) for their involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks has however proceeded at a glacial pace.”

A Pak Judicial Commission undertook its second visit to India in September 2013 and cross-examined key prosecution witnesses. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told PM in New York on September 29, 2013 that effective action on bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to book was indeed Pakistan’s intention.

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