The military operations in the tribal regions are targeting all militant groups, including the Haqqani Network, a security official said on Sunday in response to a US State Department report which suggested that certain terrorist outfits were spared by the offensives.
“It is not true that we have spared the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network. We have stated time and again that our operation is against all groups without any discrimination,” said the official, who requested not to be named in the report.
In its annual Country Reports on Terrorism released on Friday, the US State Department acknowledged that the ongoing military offensives in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency had severely dented al Qaeda’s presence in South Asia.
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“Al Qaeda’s presence in the [South Asia] region continued to face pressure from international, Afghan and Pakistani forces, and Pakistan’s ongoing offensive in North Waziristan Agency [has] further degraded the group’s freedom to operate,” the report stated.
“South Asia remained a frontline in the battle against terrorism [in 2014]… [But] pressure on al Qaeda’s traditional safe haven has constrained its leadership’s capability to communicate effectively with affiliate groups outside of South Asia,” it said.
The report noted that Pakistan’s military conducted ‘significant counter-terrorism operations’ in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency, while the country’s law enforcement and security agencies carried out raids in the country’s provinces. “Security forces intercepted large stockpiles of weapons and explosives, and discovered bomb-making facilities and sophisticated telecommunication networks,” it said.
Even so, some groups continued to find space to orchestrate and launch attacks into Afghanistan and against minorities in Pakistan, the report pointed out. It said that while operations carried out by Pakistan’s military and security forces disrupted the actions of many militant outfits in the country, groups like the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba were spared by the offensive.
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When contacted, the Foreign Office said Pakistan would give its formal reaction once the report had been analysed in detail.
A senior government official, however, said the overall report was ‘positive’ as the US clearly acknowledged the achievements of Pakistan in the war on terror.
The United States did acknowledge Pakistan as a critical counter-terrorism partner in the report but noted that cooperation in this regard between Islamabad and Washington in 2014 had been ‘mixed’. “Pakistan continued to deny visas for trainers focused on law enforcement and civilian counter-terrorism assistance,” it said.
The report also stressed the need for improvement in Pakistan’s national security and law enforcement infrastructure. It said that while the government rolled out many counter-terrorism plans, it failed to implement any of them completely. It lauded the government’s efforts to reinforce legislation against terrorism, but blamed the judiciary for slow processing of terrorism and other criminal cases.
On the other hand, it lauded the efforts of Federal Bureau of Revenue to counter bulk cash smuggling and acknowledged the initiatives of Pakistan Customs, which launched the End Use Verification (EUV) project to facilitate the entry of dual-use chemicals for legitimate purposes, while also investigating and preventing the entry of chemicals intended for use in IEDs.
At the same time, the report said, there is a need for improvement with respect to kidnapped US citizens.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2015.
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