FO 'disappointed' with US report on terrorism

Published June 25, 2020
In today's statement, FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that Pakistan was fully aware of its responsibilities as a sovereign state.  — Radio Pak/File
In today's statement, FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that Pakistan was fully aware of its responsibilities as a sovereign state. — Radio Pak/File

The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday said it was "disappointed" with Pakistan-related observations in the US State Department's Annual Country Report on Terrorism for 2019, calling them "self-contradictory and selective" in characterising efforts to counter terrorism and terrorist financing.

In a statement, FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that while the report recognises that Al Qaeda has been seriously degraded in the region, it neglects to mention Pakistan's crucial role in decimating the group.

"Similarly, the report acknowledges the sharp decrease in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. However, it neglects to explain that this was only possible because Pakistan’s resolute counter-terrorism operations have targeted proscribed groups and outfits without discrimination."

The annual report — released on June 24 — looked at global counter-terrorism trends during the past year and reviewed progress made by the US and other countries in dealing with the threat.

In the section on Pakistan, the report stated that the country continued to serve as a "safe haven for certain regionally focused terrorist groups" and allowed groups targeting Afghanistan and India to operate from its territory.

It alleged that Pakistan has yet to take decisive action against Indian and Afghanistan-focused militants, adding that no effort has been made to prosecute terrorist leaders such as Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar and Sajid Mir, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, "both of whom are widely believed to reside in Pakistan under the protection of the state, despite government denials".

In today's statement, Farooqui said that Pakistan was fully aware of its responsibilities as a sovereign state.

"We reject any insinuation about any safe haven. Pakistan will not allow any group or entity to use its territory against any country.

"On the contrary, it is Pakistan that faces the threat of terrorism from externally-based and foreign sponsored groups, like the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), ISIS-K and others. The report is again either silent or vague on the origins and locations of these terrorist groups."

The FO spokesperson also went on to highlight the different steps that have been taken to combat terrorism and terror financing.

"In recent months, Pakistan has prosecuted and convicted the leadership of several proscribed groups, which has been acknowledged by the United States elsewhere but only merit a passing mention in the report.

"Pakistan also continues to implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plan, and has undertaken wide ranging and systemic reforms to that end.

"While it notes the progress made by Pakistan under the action plan, the report did not capture the political commitment, revamping of Pakistan’s AML/CFT [anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism] regime, and our consistent and sustainable actions which have also been recognised by FATF."

It added that the report had also failed to acknowledge the full extent of Pakistan's support for the Afghan peace process.

"Pakistan’s positive contribution and facilitation of US-Taliban direct talks culminating in the peace agreement of February 29 are widely acknowledged, including by the US and its leadership.

"Pakistan hopes that future US reports will fully acknowledge the entire spectrum of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts and present a fair and correct perspective of this global threat," the statement concluded.

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