Pakistan on Thursday expressed its disappointment over the US State Department’s report which described the country as a “safe harbor” for regionally-focused terrorist groups.
The State Department, in its Congressional-mandated 2019 Country Reports on Terrorism, said on Wednesday that Pakistan remained a “safe harbor” for regionally-focused terrorist groups and that the suspension of US aid to the country remained in effect throughout 2019.
“Pakistan is 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,” the Foreign Office said, commenting on the report.
It said the report was self-contradictory and selective in its characterization of Pakistan’s efforts for countering terrorism and terrorist financing.
While the report recognizes that al-Qaeda has been seriously degraded in the region, it neglects to mention Pakistan’s crucial role in decimating the terror group’s network, thereby diminishing the threat that the terrorist group once posed to the world, the FO said.
“Similarly, the report acknowledges the sharp decrease in the incidence of terrorist attacks in Pakistan but neglects to explain that this was only possible because Pakistan’s resolute counter-terrorism operations have targeted proscribed groups and outfits without discrimination,” it added.
The FO said that Pakistan was still facing the threat of terrorism from externally based and foreign sponsored groups, like the TTP, ISIS-K and others and pointed out that the report was either silent or vague on the origins and locations of these terrorist groups.
“Pakistan remains committed to fulfilling 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,” it said.
The UN 1267 Sanctions Committee designated Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in May last year, slapping an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on him, 10 years after India’s first move to have him blacklisted at the UN.
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, it rued.
It said that Pakistan “continues to implement the Financial Action Task Force Action Plan, and has undertaken wide-ranging and systemic reforms to that end but the report failed to recognize our consistent and sustainable actions which have also been recognized by FATF.
The report failed to acknowledge the full extent of Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace process, which has created a historic opportunity for lasting peace in the region, it said and hoped that future US reports would fully acknowledge the entire spectrum of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts.