A US state department report has said Pakistan has not taken sufficient action against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to operate, train, organise and fund-raise in the country.
The report, released on Thursday, also found the progress in the 2008 Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan slow and noted that the mastermind, LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, is free on bail.
While the Islamic State “remained the greatest threat globally”, the Country Reports on Terrorism for 2015 called South Asia “a front-line region in the battle against terrorism”.
“More than 55% of all attacks took place in five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nigeria,” Justin Siberell, a state department counter-terrorism official, said while releasing the report.
And 74% of all deaths due to terrorism took place in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Nigeria. Siberell hastened to add, though, these were not US government findings.
Al Qaeda was in decline in the region, the report noted, but 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.
Pakistan’s patchy record on counter-terrorism, which has come under scathing attack in the US in recent months, came under further scrutiny and criticism in the report.
While it acted against groups that carried out attacks within the country 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)”.
“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,” it said.
Islamabad had also not taken sufficient steps to constrain fund-raising by affiliates or fronts of these groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation.
About Pakistan’s anti-terrorism courts, the report said they had “limited procedures for obtaining or admitting foreign evidence” and cited the slow progress of the Mumbai attacks trial.
The trial of seven suspects, including Lakhvi, continues eight years after the assault on India’s financial hub,with the report pointedly noting “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,” the report said.
India wrapped up its trial of Ajmal Kasab, the only one of the 10 attackers who survived and was arrested, in 2010, and hanged him in 2012 after the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.
In the US, David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani-American LeT operative who scouted the targets in Mumbai, pleaded guilty in 2010 and was sentenced to 35 years in 2013.