Washington, September 28

Pakistan is home to at least 12 groups designated as ‘foreign terrorist organisations’ by the US, including five of them being India-centric like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), according to the latest Congressional report on terrorism.

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US officials have identified Pakistan as a base of operations or target for numerous armed and non-state militant groups, some of which have existed since the 1980s, the independent Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in the report.

The report, ‘Terrorist and Other Militant Groups in Pakistan’, released by the bipartisan research wing of US Congress on the eve of the historic Quad summit hosted by US President Joe Biden at the White House last week, said that these groups operating in Pakistan can be broadly categorised into five types — globally-oriented, Afghanistan-oriented, India- and Kashmir-oriented, domestically oriented, and Sectarian (anti-Shia).

The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) was formed in the late 1980s in Pakistan and designated as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) in 2001.

“LET was responsible for major 2008 attacks in Mumbai, as well as numerous other high-profile attacks,” the CRS said.

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) was founded in 2000 by Kashmiri militant leader Masood Azhar and was designated as an FTO in 2001. Along with LET, it was responsible for the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, among other attacks, it said.

JEM also has openly declared war on the United States, it noted.

Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) was formed in 1980 in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet army and was designated as an FTO in 2010. After 1989, it redirected its efforts towards India, although it did supply fighters to the Afghan Taliban.

“With an unknown strength, HUJI today operates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, and seeks annexation of Kashmir into Pakistan,” the report said, adding that HUM was designated as an FTO in 1997 and operates mainly from Pak-Occupied Kashmir and from some Pakistani cities.

Finally, Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HM) was formed in 1989—reportedly as the militant wing of Pakistan’s largest Islamist political party—and designated as an FTO in 2017. It is one of the largest and oldest militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

Among other terrorist groups operating from Pakistan are Al Qaeda, CRS said, adding that it has operated primarily from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas and in the megacity of Karachi, as well as in Afghanistan. It has since 2011 been led by Ayman al-Zawahiri and reportedly maintains supportive ties with many of the groups inside the country.

CRS said according to the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2019, Pakistan has “continued to serve as a safe haven for certain regionally focused terrorist groups,” and has “allowed groups targeting Afghanistan…as well as groups targeting India…to operate from its territory”.

Pakistan’s neighbours, including Afghanistan and India, and the US have long accused Islamabad of providing safe haven and support to militants. PTI

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