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Pakistan critical front in war against terror, says US

August 19, 2011

US State Department’s latest report on terrorism, issued on Thursday evening, noted that “portions of Pakistani territory remained a safe haven for extremists, including high-level Al Qaeda leaders.” – File Photo

WASHINGTON: While drawing a list of states sponsoring terrorism, the US State Department has resisted calls to place Pakistan on the list and instead depicted it as “a critical front” in the war against terror.

Since the May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, some US lawmakers and a strong Indian lobby in Washington have been campaigning hard to place Pakistan among the states that sponsor terrorism.

But the State Department’s latest report on terrorism, issued on Thursday evening, only listed Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria among such states.

But it noted that “portions of Pakistani territory remained a safe haven for extremists, including high-level Al Qaeda leaders”.

The department also claimed that groups such as the Taliban’s Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network “used western Pakistan to plan attacks against American interests” in Afghanistan.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan continued using Pakistan’s tribal belt to plan attacks against the government of Pakistan and its citizens.

TTP has also diversified its target set by seeking to attack the US directly, as demonstrated by its support for the attempted Times Square bombing in May 2010, the report added.

The State Department also described Lashkar-i-Taiba and its affiliates as “a threat to the stability of the region and beyond”.

According to the State Department, Pakistan continued to experience high levels of terrorism in 2010 and Pakistan-based terrorist organisations continued to “threaten internal, regional, and global security”.

Violence resulted from both political and sectarian conflicts throughout the country, with terrorist incidents occurring in every province. While government authorities arrested many alleged perpetrators of terrorist violence, few convictions resulted.

The Pakistani military continued to conduct operations in areas with known terrorist activity but was unable to expand its operations to all areas of concern.

Increased sectarian violence between the Sunni and Shia communities and against religious minority communities also resulted in numerous attacks with high casualties. These attacks continued the trend of employing suicide bombers and remotely detonated explosives to perpetrate violence. Attacks using similar methods were also carried out against government and police facilities.

Pakistan, particularly Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, continued to be used as a base for terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Pakistani security forces undertook substantial efforts to counter these threats.

These organisations recruited, trained, and conducted fund-raising for terrorist operations in Pakistan, and used Pakistan as a transit point for cross-border movement to Afghanistan and abroad.

Pakistan's Frontier Corps and military initiated large-scale counter-insurgency operations in Mohmand and Orakzai, and added one battalion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistan's ability to continue robust operations was negatively impacted by the need to divert resources to provide relief from the 2010 floods, which caused severe, long-term damage in Pakistan.

The ability to establish and maintain security in densely populated urban areas or areas with a historically poor security presence also remained a major challenge for Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s civilian government and military departments cooperated and collaborated with US efforts to identify and counter terrorist activity in Pakistan, and the United States continued to engage Pakistan to ensure it had the will and capacity to confront all extremist elements within its borders,” the report concluded.