US report on Pakistan’s anti-terror measures overlooks facts, says FO


–FO says report fails to mention that groups like TTP, JuA and ISKP continue to conduct terrorist activities against Pakistan from across [western] border



ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Tuesday expressed disappointment over a recent report issued by the US Department of State and mandated by the US Congress, which had criticised the Pakistan government for allegedly “not doing enough to curb militant outfits”, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

“Pakistan is disappointed with assertions made in the US Department of State’s Country Report on Terrorism 2018,” a Foreign Office statement on the matter stated.

“The report completely overlooks the factual situation on the ground and the tremendous contribution made and sacrifices rendered by Pakistan over the last two decades in the international struggle against terrorism,” it added, observing that “these efforts have not only resulted in the elimination of Al-Qaeda from this region but have also made the world a safer place”.

The Foreign Office protested against the assertions made by the report, stating: “As noted in the report, Pakistan faces the threat of terrorism from a number of groups, including TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan), JuA (Jamaatul Ahrar) and ISKP (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province).

“The report, however, fails to mention that these groups continue to operate and conduct terrorist activities against Pakistan from across the [western] border.”

The Foreign Office said Islamabad was committed to taking “concrete actions” under the 2015 National Action Plan (NAP), which has been drawn up with the consensus of all national stakeholders. Furthermore, Pakistan has also taken “extensive legal and administrative measures” to ensure the implementation of the United Nations Security Council 1267 sanctions regime, the statement added.

The statement further noted that Pakistan had facilitated talks between the Afghan Taliban and the US government and that its role in efforts to establish peace in the region had been acknowledged by the major global players including Russia and China.

“Any insinuation to the contrary is unwarranted and is inconsistent with the positive trajectory of bilateral relations [between Washington and Islamabad],” the statement read.

The State Department report, which was released on Nov 1 and discussed progress made against terrorism by different countries in 2018, said that while Pakistan had implemented international standards to combat money laundering and terror financing and also criminalised such acts, “implementation remains uneven”.

It further said that the country had not taken enough measures against “externally focused groups such as LeT and JeM which continued to operate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan”.

The report, which came close on the heels of the deadline set by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for Pakistan, also alleged that while Islamabad had extended support for the Afghan peace process, it “did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and HQN (Haqqani Network) from operating” from its territory.

However, it acknowledged that NAP included efforts to prevent and counter-terrorism financing, including by enhancing interagency coordination.

The law designates the use of unlicensed hundi and hawala systems as predicate offenses to terrorism and requires banks to report suspicious transactions to Pakistan’s FIU, the State Bank’s Financial Monitoring Unit.

However, “these unlicensed money transfer systems persisted throughout the country and were open to abuse by terrorism financiers operating in the cross-border area”, the report alleged.