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Pakistan is safe haven for terror groups: US State Dept

Pakistan continued to serve as a safe haven for certain regionally focused terrorist groups and allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated Haqqani network, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organizations, and JeM, to operate from its territory, according to US State Department 2019 Country report on terrorism released on Wednesday.

Pakistan took modest steps in 2019 to counter terror financing and to restrain some India-focused militant groups following the February attack on a security convoy in the Jammu and Kashmir claimed by Pakistan-based JeM, the report pointed out. “Thus far, however, Islamabad has yet to take decisive actions against Indian- and Afghanistan-focused militants who would undermine their operational capability,” the report alleged.

Pakistan’s progress on the most difficult aspects of its 2015 National Action Plan to counter terrorism remains unfulfilled – specifically its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organizations without delay and discrimination, the report further alleged. “ While Pakistani authorities indicted LeT co-founder Hafiz Saeed and 12 of his associates on December 11, they have made no effort to use domestic authorities to prosecute other terrorist leaders such as JeM founder Masood Azhar and Sajid Mir, the mastermind of LeT’s 2008 Mumbai attacks, both of whom are widely believed to reside in Pakistan under the protection of the state, despite government denials,” according to the report.

In June 2018, the FATF placed Pakistan on its “gray list” and issued an Action Plan directing Pakistan to take specific steps by September 2019 to address strategic deficiencies. The FATF expressed serious concern at its October 2019 plenary about Pakistan’s continued deficiencies but noted it had made some progress and extended the deadline for full Action Plan implementation to February 2020, the report stated.

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