US gives Pakistan names of 20 terror groups, says report
Islamabad: The US has shared with Pakistan a list 20 terrorist groups like the LeT, JeM and HUM that Washington believes are operating from its soil to target India and Afghanistan, a media report said on Thursday.
Top on the list is the Haqqani network which, the US says has safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in northwestern Pakistan and uses them to launch attacks into Afghanistan, Dawn reported.
The list includes three types of militants groups: those who launch attacks into Afghanistan, those who attack targets inside Pakistan and those who are focused on Kashmir, the newspaper quoted diplomatic sources as saying.
India-specific terror groups like Harakatul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are also on the list. Harakatul Mujahideen is a Pakistan-based militant group operating primarily in Kashmir.
The US says that group had links to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda as well, the report said. JeM operates mainly in Kashmir.
The United States identified LeT as one of the largest and most active terrorist organisations in South Asia. Founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal in Afghanistan, the group had its headquarters in Muridke in Punjab province. It too is focused on Kashmir, the report said. Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved in the 2001 Indian parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The US blames this group for committing hundreds of target killings and dozens of mass attacks inside Pakistan.
The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella organisation of various militant groups, was based in FATA, but has now relocated to Afghanistan. The US says that the group wants to enforce its own interpretation of Sharia and plans to unite against Nato-led forces in Afghanistan. It has conducted hundreds of terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.
Other groups on the list are: Harakatul Jihadi-i-Islami, Jamaatul Ahrar, Jamaatud Dawa al-Quran and Tariq Gidar Group, which is one of 13 TTP affiliates. The Tariq Gidar Group has been behind some of the deadliest attacks inside Pakistan, including the 16 December 2014, massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar that left 132 schoolchildren and nine staffers dead.
The sources, however, rejected as incorrect the suggestion that US secretary of state Rex Tillerson gave a list of 75 terrorists to Pakistani officials when he visited Islamabad last week.
Tillerson told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday that Pakistan was willing to target terrorists if provided specific information about their whereabouts and Washington plans to give Islamabad the opportunity to do so. He said the information that the US delegation gave Pakistan went “beyond just names of individuals” and also expected “to receive information” from Pakistan that would be useful in targeting militants”.
Tillerson said that it was in the interest of Pakistan to change its “long-standing” relationship with terrorist organisations. “The conversation with the Pakistani government is for them to recognise that they will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of a successful peace process in Afghanistan,” Tillerson told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Monday.
Tillerson, who also visited Afghanistan and India last week, responded to questions on Pakistan’s co-operation in the fight against terrorism in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s South Asia Policy.
“Pakistan lives with two very unstable borders, one with Afghanistan, one with India and our message to them is — You have to begin to create greater stability inside your country and that means denying safe haven to any of these organisations that launch attacks from your territory,” Tillerson said.