Yesterday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs took umbrage with President Trump’s speech where he called out Pakistan for harboring terrorist groups. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that “Pakistan does not allow use of its territory against any country,” and denounced the so-called “false narrative of safe havens.”
Pakistan’s denial is laughable on its face. For decades, the country has permitted a number of jihadist groups to openly operate under its aegis. Many of these groups – such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Muhahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen, and Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami – were created with the support of Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.
A map depicting the location some of these groups have known to operate from is embedded to illustrate the support Trump spoke about.
Pakistan helped create these groups with the idea that they would focus their activities against Indian forces in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to help bring down the country’s most critical enemy in India. Instead, these groups quickly became part of the South Asia jihadist network and allied themselves with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was even formed at the behest of Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam.
The Pakistani state has supported the Afghan Taliban since its founding. Without Pakistani support and safe haven, the Afghan Taliban would likely have a difficult time waging a successful insurgency in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban dinks and dunks across the border with ease, in and out of the tribal regions, where they plot, execute and then return to safety in Pakistan – where it also recruits, runs madrassas and training camps, and receives medical care for its wounded.
The Pakistani military and intelligence services support the Hafiz Gul Bahadar and the Mullah Nazir Groups, despite the fact that these two Taliban organizations wage jihad in Afghanistan and support al Qaeda and other terrorist movements.
While the Pakistan government has targeted and killed or captured key al Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan, the fact that Osama bin Laden was able to live in a large home just outside of Abbottabad, the nation’s West Point, and direct al Qaeda’s operations for years raises serious questions about what Pakistani military and intelligence leaders knew and if he received direct support.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi began as an anti-Shia group and has joined the jihadist network. The Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi is a Taliban movement in northwestern Pakistan. Both have attacked the Pakistani state. Despite this, the Pakistani government has tolerated their existence.
This map does not include groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and others as these terrorist outfits wage war against these Pakistani state, and the Pakistan military has actively targeted them.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal. Alexandra Gutowski is a military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.