The report has come when the Pakistan-backed Haqqani Network has taken a centre-stage in Afghanistan, while Islamabad is continuing with cross-border terrorism in India

Pakistan has ‘continued to serve as a safe haven for certain regionally focused terrorist groups,’ the US Congressional Research Service Report stated Pakistan is an operational base of 12 ‘Foreign Terrorist Organistions’, including five being India-centric, as per a US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on terrorism.

Tearing Pakistan apart, the report said Islamabad 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’.

“US officials have identified Pakistan as a base of operations and/or target for numerous armed, non state militant groups, some of which have existed since the 1980s,” said the report titled ‘Terrorist and Other Militant Groups in Pakistan’ published on the eve of the Quad Summit on September 23.

It further said there are five broad but not exclusive types of terrorist groups operating in Pakistan viz. globally-oriented; Afghanistan oriented; India- and Kashmir-oriented; domestically oriented; and sectarian (anti-Shia).

Twelve of the fifteen groups classified under the five categories are designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) under US law and most, but not all, are animated by Islamist extremist ideology, the bipartisan research wing of the US Congress report added.

Groups responsible for major attacks:

The first among the groups under the India and Kashmir-oriented militants category is Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT) formed in the late 1980s in Pakistan and designated as an FTO in 2001, it said.

Led by Hafiz Saeed and based in both Pakistan’s Punjab province and in Pakistan-administered (Azad) Kashmir, it is more recently fronted by the ostensibly charitable Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the report informed.

LET was responsible for major 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, as well as numerous other high-profile attacks, it said.

According to the report, the second group under this category is 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, Jaish-e-Mohammed was responsible for a 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, among numerous others, it said.

The third under the India and Kashmir-oriented militants category is Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) was formed in 1980 in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet army and after 1989 it redirected its efforts toward India, although it did supply fighters to the Afghan Taliban, it noted.

The report mentioned the fourth organization under this category is Harakat ul-Mujahadeen (HUM) which was designated as an FTO in 1997 and operates mainly from Azad Kashmir and from some Pakistani cities.

It was responsible for the 1999 hijacking of an Indian airliner, leading to the release from an Indian prison of JEM’s future founder; most HUM cadres subsequently defected to that group.

The fifth and the last under the category of India and Kashmir-oriented militants is Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HM) that was formed in 1989, reportedly as the militant wing of Pakistan’s largest Islamist political party. Although Kashmir based, HM reportedly has key funding sources in Pakistan.

The report stated that other terrorist groups inside Pakistan are Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent(AQIS), Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP or IS-K); the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundallah (aka Jaysh al-Adl), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ). Pakistan ‘a safe haven’ for terrorist groups

Citing the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2019 (released in June 2020), the CRS report said that 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’.

The Department noted ‘Modest steps’ taken by Pakistan’s government to counter terrorism financing and to ‘restrain’ some India-focused militant groups following an early 2019 terrorist attack in Indian-administered Kashmir, the CRS report added.

It assessed, however, that ‘Islamabad has yet to take decisive actions against India-and Afghanistan-focused militants,’ and that ‘progress on the most difficult aspects of its 2015 National Action Plan to counter terrorism remains unfulfilled— specifically its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organizations without delay and discrimination.’

On the topic of ‘terrorist safe havens,’ the Department concluded that Pakistan’s government and military 'acted inconsistently with respect to terrorist safe havens throughout the country.’