‘Our soil is not used for carrying out terrorist attacks,’ Pakistan PM claims

While deflecting blame for last week’s suicide attack in the Indian state of Kashmir that killed dozens of Indian soliders, Pakistan’s prime minister denied that his country is harboring terrorist groups. His denial is strikingly similar to the Taliban’s claim that it does not permit Afghan territory to be used as a launching pad to strike at other countries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan made the statement in a message which addressed the Feb. 14 suicide attack in the city of Pulwama. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a terrorist group supported by the Pakistan state and military, claimed credit for the attack, which killed more than 40 soldiers.

“We believe that it is in our interest that our soil is not used for carrying out terrorist attacks in other countries, nor do we want outsiders to come and carry out terror attacks here. We desire stability,” Khan claimed, according to Dawn.

“If someone is using Pakistan’s soil [to carry out terror attacks elsewhere], it is [akin to] enmity with us. It is against our interests,” Khan continued.

Khan then demanded the Indian government provide evidence of Pakistani collusion in the attack and offered to conduct a joint investigation. The Pakistani government has made similar offers after Pakistan-based terrorist groups launched major attacks inside India. The most egregious example is after the coordinated suicide assault on the city of Mumbai in Nov. 2008 that killed more than 160 people. Pakistan refused to take action against Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan’s premier proxy terrorist organization.

Pakistan remains a hub for terrorist groups

Khan’s denial is nothing new for Pakistan. After President Trump called out Pakistan for its harboring of terrorist groups in Aug. 2017, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs took umbrage. 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.”

Yet Pakistan’s continual support for terrorist groups is an established fact. Terrorist outfits 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 and continue to operate inside Pakistan with the assistance of the government to this day (see map above for a sampling of the most important groups).

Pakistan helped create these outfits 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, India. But they quickly integrated with the jihadist syndicate that supports both al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. This terrorist syndicate also supports the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which routinely kills Pakistani soldiers and civilians.

The US government continually calls out Pakistan for harboring terror organizations. In its latest Country Reports on Terrorism, the US State Department noted that terrorist attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban continue to be “planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan.”

Pakistan lies like the Taliban

Khan’s claim that “our [Pakistani] soil is not used for carrying out terrorist attacks in other countries” is remarkably similar, if not identical to the Afghan Taliban’s false assurances that it won’t allow its territory to be used by terror groups.

The Taliban has claimed since the 1990s that this is the case. Most recently, in its latest statement on the summit in Moscow, the Taliban stated “we do not allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against other countries including neighboring countries.” [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Taliban continues to host foreign terrorist groups, despite assurances to the contrary for more details.]

The Taliban is making this assurance in an attempt to give the United States cover so it can withdrawal its forces from Afghanistan. However, the Taliban’s claim is undeniably false. Details of US raids against al Qaeda and a host of terror groups that conduct attacks in the region, as well as martyrdom statements from these organizations, prove that they continue to operate inside Afghanistan to this day (see map below)

The Afghan Taliban is backed by the Pakistani government, military, and intelligence services, so it is unsurprising that the two share the same language when denying their undeniable complicity in backing terror groups.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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