A US Congressional report has said that Pakistan is home to a large number of militant outfits, which can be broadly divided into five groups, one of which is specifically targeted against India and Kashmir that gets the maximum support from the establishment.
Islamist militant groups operating in and from Pakistani territory are of five broad types -- Globally oriented militants, Afghanistan-oriented militants, India and Kashmir-oriented militants, Sectarian militants, and domestically oriented, the independent Congressional Research Service said in its latest report to US lawmakers.
Globally oriented militants are especially al Qaeda and its primarily Uzbek affiliates, operating out of the FATA and in the megacity of Karachi, it said.
The Afghanistan-oriented militants, including the 'Quetta shura' of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, believed to operate from the Balochistan provincial capital of Quetta, as well as Karachi; the organization run by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin, in the North Waziristan tribal agency; and the Hizb-I Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (HiG), operating further north from the Bajaur tribal agency and Dir district, it said.
CRS said India- and Kashmir-oriented militants, especially the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), and Harakat ul-Mujahadeen (HuM), are based in both the Punjab province and in Pakistan-held Kashmir.
The Sectarian militants, in particular the anti-Shia Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and its offshoot, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the latter closely associated with al Qaeda, operating mainly in Punjab, the report said.
It said domestically oriented groups are largely Pashtun militants that in 2007 unified under the leadership of now-deceased Baitullah Mehsud as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, with representatives from each of Pakistan's seven FATA agencies, later to incorporate the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi led by Maulana Sufi Mohammed in the northwestern Malakand and Swat districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
"By many accounts the North Waziristan tribal agency — home to the al Qaeda - and Taliban-allied Haqqani network and the TTP forces of Hafiz Gul Bahadar, among others—is currently the most important haven for both Afghan-and Pakistan-oriented militants," it said.
Pakistani officials have continued to demur on urgent US requests that their military move into what many consider the "final" militant haven of North Waziristan, saying they need to consolidate the areas newly under their control, it said.
"In other areas where Pakistani military offensives have taken place, the clearing phase of operations has been largely successful, but the holding phase has proven more difficult, and building is considered impossible to initiate so long as the civilian administration’s capacity is severely limited. Moreover, Pakistan's military forces are new to counterinsurgency and demonstrate only limited capacity to undertake effective nonconventional warfare," the report said.
The report said Pakistan's densely populated Punjab province is home to numerous Islamist militant groups with global and regional jihadist aspirations.
Perhaps most notable among these is the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a US-designated terrorist group with longstanding ties to the ISI.
"There appear to be growing differences over the threat posed by LeT, with the United States increasingly viewing the group as a serious threat to its own security. The Davis affair may have exposed newly independent US intelligence operations against the LeT in Pakistan," it said.
According to CRS, the myriad and sometimes disparate Islamist militant groups operating in Pakistan, many of which have displayed mutual animosity in the past, appear to have become more intermingled and mutually supportive since 2009.
"US leaders remain concerned that al Qaeda terrorists operate with impunity on Pakistani territory. Al Qaeda apparently was weakened in Pakistan in 2009 and 2010 through the loss of key leaders and experienced operatives," it said.
Drone strikes, Pakistani military operations, and internal rifts all combine to degrade the group's capabilities. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan emerged as a coherent grouping in late 2007.