A US Congressional Research Service report has revealed that Pakistan is home to at least 12 groups designated as ‘foreign terrorist organisations’, including five of them being India-centric like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The officials of the bipartisan research wing of US Congress 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.
In a big statement, the CRS cited the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2019 and said that Pakistan has “continued to serve as a safe haven for certain regionally-focused terrorist groups.” Moreover, it has “allowed groups targeting Afghanistan … as well as groups targeting India …to operate from its territory”.
The report released on the eve of the historic Quad summit here 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).
Formed in the late 1980s in Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) in 2001.
“LET was responsible for major 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, 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.
The report further mentions Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) was formed in 1980 in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet army. “With an unknown strength, HUJI today operates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, and seeks annexation of Kashmir into Pakistan,” the report said.
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, the report stated.