Pakistan ‘Disappointed’ at Annual U.S. Terrorism Report

Foreign Office rebuts allegations that Islamabad is not doing enough to rein in terror outfits operating from its soil.

Pakistan on Tuesday expressed disappointment at a report issued by the U.S. State Department, which criticized Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts.

In a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Islamabad said the Country Report on Terrorism 2018 “completely overlooks the factual situation on the ground and the tremendous contribution made and sacrifices rendered by Pakistan over the last two decades in the international struggle against terrorism.” It said that Pakistan’s efforts had helped eliminate Al Qaeda from the region, making the entire world “a safer place” as a result.

The U.S. report, released on Nov. 1, acknowledged Pakistan’s progress in adhering to international standards to reduce money laundering and terror financing but noted “implementation remains uneven.” It also criticized Islamabad for taking limited steps to tackle groups staging terror attacks from its soil, specifically identifying Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed as continuing to operate in Pakistan without any issues.

It also noted that even though Pakistan had criminalized unlicensed money transfer systems such as hawala and hundi, they continued to be utilized across the country “and were open to abuse by terrorism financiers operating in the cross-border area [between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

The U.S. report went on to claim that even though Pakistan had supported the U.S.-led Afghan peace process, it failed in preventing the Afghan Taliban or the Haqqani Network from staging attacks in Afghanistan from its soil.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office took great umbrage at this assertion. “As noted in the Report, Pakistan faces the threat of terrorism from a number of groups including TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan], JuA [Jamaat-ul-Ahrar] and ISKP [Islamic State Khorasan Province]. The report, however, fails to mention that these groups continue to operate and conduct terrorist activities against Pakistan from across the border,” it said, referring to multiple reports citing terror in the country originating from Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has facilitated U.S. and Taliban direct talks in the context of the Afghan peace and reconciliation process in good faith. Pakistan’s positive contribution in this regard has been widely acknowledged, including by the United States and its leadership. Any insinuation to the contrary is unwarranted and is inconsistent with the positive trajectory of the bilateral relations,” it added.

The U.S. report praised Pakistan’s 2015 National Action Plan to combat terrorism and its pledge to prevent and counter terror financing and enhance inter-agency coordination but again pointed to lack of implementation as a barrier. The Foreign Office said Islamabad was united in acting under NAP. “Pakistan has taken extensive legal and administrative measures for implementation of its obligations under the UNSC 1267 sanctions regime for the freezing of assets and denial of funds and economic resources to all designated entities and individuals. Pakistan is continuing actions to fully implement the FATF Action Plan,” it said.

“We have always stressed that counter-terrorism efforts can be effectively advanced through constructive engagement. We hope Pakistan’s commitment, contributions and sacrifices would be fully recognized and appreciated in the right perspective,” it concluded.