Pakistan has ‘full-fledged plan’ to take out terrorist groups, while denying their existence

One week after his prime minister denied that terrorist groups operate from inside his country, Pakistan’s Minister of Information vowed yesterday that he has “a full-fledged strategy” to take action against terrorist groups that use Pakistani soil as home base.

“A full-fledged strategy is now in place,” to tackle the problem of terrorist groups operating inside Pakistan, Fawad Chaudhry told Reuters. “We have different strategies for different groups, but the main aim is that we have to enforce the writ of the state. We have to demilitarize if there are groups (on our soil).”

“With banned groups it will be made sure that they will be banned in practical terms also,” Chaudhry said, referring to terrorist groups that are proscribed by the Pakistani state. “The problem is that they change names and start operating from other names. This needs to be taken care of.”

In the last sentence, Chaudhry is referring to groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is particularly adept at changing its name and using charitable fronts in an attempt to hide its activities. However, US intelligence officials have described this activity as a feature and not a bug; it allows the Pakistani state to claim that it is struggling to keep up with the terrorist groups, when it knows full well what is happening.

Chaudhry’s comments directly contradicted those of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who last week stated Pakistani soil was not used to launch attacks against neighboring countries. Pakistani government officials and military leaders have a long history of denying that terrorist groups operate from its territory, while at the same time claiming it takes action against these organizations.

The list below is a sampling of the most egregious statements issued since 2012, but it is by no means comprehensive.

FDD’s Long War Journal has documented Pakistan’s support for regional and international terrorist groups for the past two decades. LWJ has been banned by the Pakistani government since the summer of 2012 as a result of this reporting.

For a summary of Pakistan’s support for jihadist groups, see Pakistan: Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Terrorism?

Feb. 2019: While deflecting blame for last week’s suicide attack in the Indian state of Kashmir that killed dozens of Indian soliders, Prime Minister Imran Khan 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. ‘Our soil is not used for carrying out terrorist attacks,’ Pakistan PM claims

Feb. 2018: During the “Chiefs of Defence” meeting held in Kabul earlier today, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff claimed that his country “has eliminated all terrorist sanctuaries from its soil” and blamed “residual signatures of terrorists” on Afghan refugees living there. Pakistani General talks tough on terrorism, but remains short on action

Nov. 2017: One day after Pakistan freed Hafiz Saeed, the emir of al Qaeda and Taliban-allied terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani government claimed its resolve to fight against terrorists “is unmatched in the world.” Saeed was freed from house arrest after the Lahore High Court determined that his release would not “bring diplomatic and financial problems to the country.” The US government has listed Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and issued a $10 million bounty for information leading to his arrest and capture. Lashkar-e-Taiba – which is now known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa – and several of its charitable fronts have been listed as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba operate openly inside Paksitan, with the support of the military and government. Pakistan laughingly says its fight against terrorists is ‘unmatched in the world’

Aug. 2017: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the country does not permit terrorist groups to operate on its soil, and denounced what it called “the false narrative of safe havens.” Instead, the ministry blamed the long-running dispute with India over Jammu and Kashmir as the root cause of instability in the region. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was responding to President Donald Trump’s assertion that the US “can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” during his speech on Aug. 21 that outlined US strategy towards Afghanistan and the wider South Asia region. In response to Trump, Pakistan claims no terrorist groups operate on its soil

July 2017: The Pakistan military recoiled after Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense called on Pakistan to launched operations against “terrorist centers” throughout the country, including in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations branch said that Afghan Ministry of Defense spokesman’s comments that Pakistan is a hub for terrorist activity “is unwarranted and runs counter to Pakistan Army’s efforts for better Pak-Afghan coordination and cooperation.” Afghan military calls for Pakistan to launch operations on ‘terrorist centers’ throughout country

June 2017: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs objected to the United States’ designation of Hizbul Mujahideen emir Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist and claimed the country “has a demonstrated and longstanding commitment of combating terrorism.” Salahauddin has admitted to raising funds to wage jihad in Afghanistan and India, and has supported fighting US forces inside Afghanistan. Additionally, Salahuddin has close ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba and its charitable front, Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Both groups are recognized as foreign terrorist organizations and are supported by the Pakistani state. Salahaddin has also admitted that the Pakistani military has allowed him to operate “hundreds of training camps.” Pakistan denounces US terrorism designation of Hizbul Mujahideen chief

June 2017: After the US killed a Haqqani Network commander in an attack in Pakistan, the country’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said that US drone strikes and other unilateral actions “are against spirit of ongoing cooperation” and that any intelligence on terrorist whereabouts should be forwarded to the army for action. Bajwa made the statement despite the fact that Pakistani officials have routinely passed along actionable intelligence to terrorists to help them avoid raids, as well as supposed “counterproductive” drone strikes have historically been effective in killing scores of top tier terrorist leaders, including the last three leaders of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which is responsible for killing tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians and military personnel. US drone strikes ‘against spirit of ongoing cooperation,’ Pakistani Army chief says

May 2015: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a formal statement protesting the US drone strike that killed Taliban emir Mullah Mansour in Baluchistan province on May 21 as “a violation of its sovereignty,” and claimed that the prime minister and army chief of staff were only notified after the fact. Pakistan has officially protested some US drone strikes in the past, typically when a so-called “good Taliban” leader is targeted. Pakistan protests US airstrike on Mansour as ‘a violation of sovereignty’

April 2015: A Pakistani court has ordered Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, one of the architects of the 2008 suicide assault in Mumbai, India that resulted in the deaths of more than 160 people, to be released from prison. Lakhvi, a military commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit that has close links to al Qaeda and is supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate, the military, and elements of the government, was reluctantly identified by the Pakistani government as being the “mastermind” of the Mumbai assault. The charge was leveled just weeks after the attack. Pakistani court again orders release of Mumbai attack plotter

Nov. 2014: “The Government of Pakistan takes serious exception to comments contained in the US Department of Defence report sent to the Congress under the title “Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan”. While noting Pakistan’s cooperation with the US in areas of mutual interests, the report also carries unsubstantiated allegations of the existence of terrorist “sanctuaries” or that proxy forces are operating from here against Afghanistan and India,” the Pakistani government said. Pakistan objects to Pentagon report that mentions jihadist sanctuaries, use of terrorist proxies

Jan. 2013: A spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that his country takes “immediate action” against any terrorist groups that are sanctioned by the United Nations when responding to questions about the purported recent ban of the Haqqani Network and Jamaat-ud-Dawa. But the Haqqani Network was designated a terrorist group by the UN in 2012, and Jamaat-ud-Dawa in 2005. “When any entity or individual is proscribed by UN, we take immediate action,” the spokesman claimed when asked by a reporter to confirm if the Haqqani Network has been banned by Pakistan. Pakistan falsely claims it takes ‘immediate action’ against terror groups listed by the UN

April 2012: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman said that Pakistan has no connection with the terrorist organizations that are creating unrest in the region. Pakistan doesn’t support terrorists…


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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