WASHINGTON: The White House retains a list of 20 terrorist groups that the Trump administration claims are operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan and is believed to have shared this list with Pakistani officials, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The sources, however, rejected the suggestion as incorrect that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a list of 75 terrorists to Pakistani officials when he visited Islamabad last week.

Mr Tillerson told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday that Pakistan was willing to target terrorists if provided specific information about their whereabouts and Washington plans to give Islamabad the opportunity to do so.

Addressing another briefing, Mr Tillerson said the US and Pakistan had been engaged in “a very healthy exchange of information on terrorists” since his visit to Islamabad last week, which aimed at re-enforcing US President Donald Trump’s message to Pakistan to take action against the Taliban and the Haqqani network.

He said the information that the US delegation gave Pakistan went “beyond just names of individuals” and also expected “to receive information” from Pakistan that would be useful in targeting militants”.

The future exchange of information, he said, would go beyond “specific location on any given day of where certain individuals or certain cells may be located.”

The White House list, released on The Washington Post’s demand, includes three types of militants groups: those who launch attacks into Afghanistan, those who attack targets inside Pakistan and those who are focused on Kashmir.

Top on the list is the Haqqani network which, the United States claims, has safe havens in Fata and uses them to launch attacks into Afghanistan. Pakistan strongly rejects the charge, saying that there are no such safe havens inside the country.

Harakatul Mujahideen is a Pakistan-based militant group operating primarily in Kashmir. The US says that group had links to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda as well.

Jaish-e-Mohammed operates mainly in Kashmir and the liberation of the Indian occupied Kashmir is its declared objective.

Jundullah is associated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and was commanded by militant Hakimullah Mehsud, the Emir of TTP until his death in November 2013. It had vowed allegiance to the militant Islamic State group.

The United States identified Lashkar-e-Taiba as one of the largest and most active terrorist organisations in South Asia. Founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal in Afghanistan, the group had its headquarters in Muridke. It too is focused on Kashmir.

Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved in the 2001 Indian parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Lashkar-i-Jhanghvi, an offshoot of anti-Shia sectarian group Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, was founded by former SSP activists Riaz Basra, Malik Ishaq, Akram Lahori and Ghulam Rasool Shah.

The US blames this group for committing hundreds of target killings and dozens of mass attacks inside Pakistan.

Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella organisation of various militant groups, was based in Fata, but has now relocated to Afghanistan. The US says that the group wants to enforce its own interpretation of Sharia and plans to unite against Nato-led forces in Afghanistan. It has conducted hundreds of terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

Other groups on the list are: Harakatul Jihadi-i-Islami, Jamaatul Ahrar, Jamaatud Dawa al-Quran and Tariq Gidar Group, which is one of 13 TTP affiliates. The Tariq Gidar Group has been behind some of the deadliest attacks inside Pakistan, including the Dec 16, 2014, massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar that left 132 schoolchildren and nine staffers dead.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Commander Nazir Group, Indian Mujahideen, Islamic Jihad Union, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan ISIS-Khorasan, Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent and the Turkistan Islamic Party Movement are also on the list.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2017

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