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Militant groups still operating in Pak: report

world Updated: May 10, 2010 10:56 IST

Major radical organisations, including anti-India militant groups, continue to operate openly in Pakistan, a media report said o n Monday, as top administration officials here pointed fingers at Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan for the failed Times Square bombing attempt.

"Banned groups such as Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed have formed organisations with new names that operate freely. Some of their leaders have been arrested for alleged links to terrorist attacks, then released by the courts," The Washington Post said.

Meanwhile, identical statements came from US Attorney General Eric Holder, and John Brennan, the Deputy National Security Advisor, blaming the Pakistan Taliban for the Times Square attempt.

India has said that Pakistan has so far been reluctant to take action against anti-India terrorist groups like LeT and JeM and its leaders, against whom New Delhi has provided evidence, are freely roaming around.

Validating India's contention, The Washington Post said major anti-India militant groups and other radical Sunni organisations in Punjab need little cover.

"The groups have in recent years increasingly focused attacks within Punjab as provincial officials have tried to placate them, both to capitalise on their popularity and in hopes of moderating their views," it said.

The paper recalled how Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was widely criticised in March for calling on the Pakistani Taliban to "spare Punjab," which he suggested had common cause with the militants by rejecting Western dictates.

"Another provincial minister visited the seminary of a banned group and campaigned for office with the leader of another. Jaish-e-Mohammed recently built a large walled compound in the southern Punjabi city of Bahawalpur," it said.

"These groups have not been touched," the paper quoted leading Pakistani analyst on extremism Ahmed Rashid as saying.

"They have been through a metamorphosis and turned their guns inward and linked up with other groups in the northwest, but no one is acknowledging it. The word is out that if you hang with them, you're safe," it said.

Brennan said in an interview that a number of terrorist groups have been operating in Pakistan, and it needs to be made sure that "there's no support being given to them by Pakistani government".

"They need to maintain the pressure on all of these groups. There are no militant or terrorist groups in Pakistan that should be allowed to continue there," he said.

Holder, meanwhile, said the US had evidence of the involvement of the Pakistan Taliban in the Times Square case, and Pakistan needs to do more.