Flying in the face of Pakistani denials, the US has not minced words in saying how numerous terrorist groups, including the LeT and JeM, continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2016, and how LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, a UN designated terrorist, freely addressed large gatherings.
The US State Department, in its Country Reports on Terrorism, and under the subtitle Terrorist Safe Havens, said: “Numerous terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network (HQN), Lashkar e-Taiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2016.”
It said that although LeT is banned in Pakistan, LeT’s wings Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) “were able to openly engage in fundraising, including in the capital”.
“LeT’s chief Hafiz Saeed (a UN-designated terrorist) continued to address large rallies, although in February 2017, Pakistan proscribed him under relevant provisions of Schedule Four of the Anti-Terrorism Act, thus severely restricting his freedom of movement.”
It said a 2015 ban on media coverage of Saeed, JuD, and FiF continued and was generally followed by broadcast and print media.
“The Pakistani government did not publicly reverse its December 2015 declaration that neither JuD nor FiF is banned in Pakistan, despite their listing under UN sanctions regimes, although in January 2017, Pakistan placed both organizations “under observation” pursuant to Schedule Two of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“While not a ban, this allows the government to closely scrutinize the activities of both organizations.”
It said that on November 11, 2016, Pakistana’s National Counterterrorism Authority published its own list of banned organisations that placed the JuD in a separate section for groups that are “Under Observation,” but not banned.
Pakistan continued military operations to eradicate terrorist safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, although their impact on all terrorist groups was uneven.
Throughout 2016, the government of Pakistan administered an Exit Control List intended to prevent terrorists from traveling abroad.
Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, in an interview in April this year claimed that Hafiz Saeed was not involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack and “in Pakistan, we don’t call him a terrorista.
In the beginning of July, a fund-raising campaign was organised in the name of Kashmir by Falah-e-Insaniyat in Rawalakot, Pakistan-administered Kashmir.