Though Britain has not witnessed or experienced a major incident of terror over the last few years, the fact that other European capitals such as Paris and Brussels have this year, has prompted the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to suggest to Pakistan that it needs to do much more to reduce potential threats to the UK from terrorists based on its soil.
According to informed sources here, London apparently seems unconvinced about Islamabad’s promises given three years ago during then Home Secretary May’s visit that it looked forward to working with the UK on counter-terrorism, immigration, serious crimes and narcotics, and adding that the ‘sky was the limit’ when it comes to identifying areas of cooperation. The sources maintained that things don’t seem to have changed much insofar as Islamic extremist elements spreading their terror mayhem from the soils of Pakistan, Afghanistan and West Asia.
In fact, they said, that any honest observer of Pakistan would agree that the situation there has only worsened, with these elements not only increasing their spread and influence within the country, but also outside, particularly in the UK. They claimed that there is no sense of calm within the UK when it comes to grappling with the unsettling face of Islamic extremism within the country. In August this year, Pakistani cleric Anjem Choudary, one of the most well known faces of extremism in the UK, was arrested, and there is a view that there are still many similar to Anjem who are based in Pakistan or the Middle East who are quietly working to strengthen the roots of terror groups inside the UK.
The sources claimed that with the help of British Pakistanis, Pakistan-based terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and its front organisation the Jamat-ut-Dawa, both of which were declared proscribed groups as per the Terrorism Act 2000 of the UK, have made deep inroads in the country, and to highlight their concern, they refer to the fact that Pakistan national Shafiq-ur-Rehman Shaheen, who headed the LeT in the UK in the 1990s, has been successful in scuttling his deportation order and continues to reside in the country.
Prime Minister May is scheduled to visit Pakistan in the first half of 2017, and according to these informed sources, she is most likely to flag on priority her government’s concerns of LeT fingerprints being discovered in the UK, and the fact that its founder, Hafiz Saeed, a UN proscribed terrorist, is allowed by authorities in Pakistan to hold public rallies where he spews venom and openly threatens the destruction of the UK. They said that they expect May to firmly tell Pakistan that if it does not take steps to curtail and neutralise terrorists operating from its soil, London would be constrained to review its policy of engaging with Islamabad. Currently though, the British security establishment remains hopeful about seeing more active cooperation with Pakistan on terrorism, the sources said.