Pakistan continues to serve as a safe haven for certain regionally-focused terrorist groups. The US Department’s Pakistan report on Terrorism 2019 said that it allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organizations, and JeM, to operate from its territory.
In a scathing critique of Pakistan’s covert support to terrorism, the United States alleged that Islamabad took modest steps in 2019 to counter terror financing and to restrain some India-focused terrorist outfits in the aftermath of the 14 February 2019 Pulwama attack, in which 40 security personnel were martyred after the attack on the security convoy of CRPF was attacked by a Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorist. The report added that Pakistan is yet to concrete action against India and Afghanistan-focused terror groups that aimed to undermine the operational capabilities of the two countries.
The attack on the Indian paramilitary forces in Pulwama in February 2019 heightened the tensions between the two countries, observed the report by the US Department.
“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,” the report said.
Furthermore, the report stated that the government and the Pakistani military acted inconsistently with respect to terrorist safe havens throughout the country. The Pakistani authorities failed in taking necessary steps in containing terror outfits and individuals from openly operating in the country,” said the State Department.
Talking about the radicalisation that goes unabated in Pakistan through a system of rabid madarsas, the report observed that though Pakistan’s National Action Plan directed increased supervision of madarsas, many madarsas reform proponents and security analysts claimed that several madarsas failed to comply with the government-mandated regulations and refused to divulge details related to their sources of funding or to limit their acceptance of foreign students to those with valid visas, a background check, and the consent of their governments, as required by law.
With regards to the inclusion of Pakistan on FATF’s “grey list” in June 2019, the US Department stated that Pakistan was issued an Action Plan by the FATF directing it to take specific steps by September 2019 to address strategic deficiencies in its CFT efforts. The FATF also raised concerns at its October 2019 plenary about Pakistan’s continued deficiencies, but it noted that some progress had been made by the country and therefore postponed the deadline for full Action Plan implementation to February 2020.
In 2018, Pakistan was designated as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. It was re-designated as a CPC in 2019.