US slams Pak for not upping its counter-terrorism, slow trial in Mumbai attacks

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jun 03, 2016 09:32 IST
Zaki-ur-Rahman-Lakhvi is the main suspect in the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. A US government report said Pakistan was dragging its feet on trial of the attacks, noting that Lakhvi was out on bail, though under house arrest. (AP File Photo)

A US state department report released on Thursday said Pakistan continued to not take sufficient action against Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and cited the slow progress of the trial of the Mumbai 2008 attacks.

The Country Reports on Terrorism for 2015 called South Asia “a front-line region in the battle against terrorism” even as the Islamic State (IS) “remained the greatest threat globally”.

Noting that LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman-Lakhvi is free on bail, though under house arrest, the report brought Pakistan’s patchy record on counter-terrorism under scrutiny and criticism. Islamabad has come under scathing attack in the US in recent months for its counter-terrorism efforts.

“Pakistan has also not taken sufficient action against other externally-focused groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to operate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan,” the report said.

Islamabad has further failed to take sufficient steps to constrain fund-raising by affiliates or fronts of these outfits such as LeT’s Jamaat-u-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, it said.

While Pakistan acted against terrorists that carried out attacks in its territories, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the report said, it “did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or HQN (the Haqqani Network, a faction of Afghan Taliban)”.

Though al Qaeda was in decline in the region, the report noted its “leadership continued to operate from remote locations in the region that the group has historically exploited for safe haven”.

It might have added safe havens in Pakistan, where al Qaeda’s top leader Osama bin Laden was found hiding with his family and killed by US forces five years ago in May 2011.

As for Pakistan’s anti-terrorism courts, the report said they had “limited procedures for obtaining or admitting foreign evidence” and cited how Pakistan was dragging its feet in the judicial proceedings of the Mumbai attacks.

The trial of seven suspects, including Lakhvi, continues eight years after the attack, the report said, pointing out “many witnesses for the prosecution remaining to be called by the court”.

“Security concerns and procedural issues resulted in a slow pace of trial proceedings.”

India wrapped up its trial of Ajmal Kasab, one of the 10 gunmen who survived and was arrested, in 2010, and hanged him in 2012 after Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.

In the US, David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani-descent LeT operative who scouted the targets hit by the Mumbai attackers, pleaded guilty in 2010 and was awarded 35 years in 2013.

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