After declaring Syed
Salahuddin, the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) chief, a Specially Designated Global
Terrorist in June, the US has now proscribed his group as well. Salahuddin also
heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella outfit of terror groups operating
"The Department of State
has designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under
section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially
Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.)
13224. These designations seek to deny
HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks", a US State
Department release said.
Unlike earlier, some of the
recent moves by the US have been targeted against terrorists and organizations
perpetrating terror in India, be it Hafiz Saeed or Salahuddin or now HM and
they suggest a clear mindset change.
The US State Department had
declared Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists five years ago, a historical
study of its annual authoritative Country Report on Terrorism says. The annual
report for 2012 that came out in 2013 for the first time used the term “safe
haven” for Pakistan for letting terrorist groups thrive and operate from its
The 2013 Country Report on
Terrorism (for terror activities in the year 2012) used the line “a number of
these attacks were planned and launched from these groups’ safe haven in
Pakistan.” ‘These groups’ here mean “the Afghan Taliban, HQN (the Haqqani
Network) and other AQ-affiliated groups” which continued to wreak havoc in
From next year onwards, i.e.,
2014 Country Report on Terrorism (for terror activities in the year 2013), the
US chose to generalize about Afghanistan centric terror emanating from Pakistan
by removing ‘these groups’ and adding ‘and other insurgent and terrorist
groups’. It meant the US found many more terror outfits operating from Pakistan
to perpetrate terror against US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan and it was not
just limited to the terror triad of Afghan Taliban, HQN and the AQ-affiliated
So, first few lines of the
second paragraph of Chapter 2 of the Country Report on Terrorism (on South and
Central Asia) every year would be, “Afghanistan, in particular, continued to
experience aggressive and coordinated attacks by the Afghan Taliban, including
the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN) and other insurgent and terrorist groups.
A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in
We can see the focus of the
report about describing Pakistan a safe haven for terrorists all these years
have been basically about Afghanistan. But the latest report goes a step ahead
in adding the much required dimension to it, i.e., recognizing Pakistan’s
complicity in sponsoring terror in India.
India has long been
complaining to the US on its double standards on terror emanating from Pakistan
rightly arguing that it cannot differentiate between a good terrorist from a
bad terrorist. All the US censure, all tough words to Pakistan have been about
cracking down on the terror outfits that have shifted their base to Pakistan
but continue to target Afghanistan, the US forces and interests there and the
The civil war, in fact, never
ended in Afghanistan. The warring factions were previously centralized within
Afghanistan with Taliban being the last ruling faction. Now Pakistan has become
the main base for Taliban and other such groups who want to overthrow the
process of democratic transition in Afghanistan. And from Pakistan, they
continue to run amok in Afghanistan. How serious is situation can be gauged
from the fact that even Afghanistan’s most secure area, Kabul’s diplomatic
enclave that also houses the seat of its government, is not safe from terror
strikes. It has seen multiple attacks.
For Pak based groups
perpetrating terror in India, the US brief had not gone beyond the routine
lines like ‘Pakistan should expedite the Mumbai or Pathankot terror probes’.
The US continued with billions of dollars in aid even if it knew that Pakistan was
harbouring terrorists who were India’s most wanted. What made it a theatre of
absurd was the fact that even if many of these terrorists like Hafiz Saeed were
carrying a heft US bounty on their heads, they were free to roam in Pakistan
like respected citizens.
That, seems, is changing now.
First, the US pressure left Pakistan with no other option but to house arrest
Hafiz Saeed in January this year. Though symbolic, it suggested that the US had
started putting pressure on Pakistan. It also told us that the US was coming
out of its “good and bad terrorists” mindset. In June, Pakistan had to ban the
new front of Hafiz Saeed’s terror outfit, Tehreek-e-Azadi-Jammu & Kashmir
Then in June only, the US
declared Syed Salahuddin, the terror lord of Pak based umbrella groups for
perpetrating terror in Jammu and Kashmir, a global terrorist.
PAKISTAN A SAFE HAVEN FOR INDIA CENTRIC TERROR GROUPS
Then in July, the world’s
only superpower termed Pakistan a safe haven for India centric terror groups.
The Country Report on
Terrorism 2017 (for the year 2016) says, “The Pakistan government supported
political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban,
but failed to take significant action to constrain the ability of the Afghan
Taliban and HQN to operate from Pakistan-based safe havens and threaten U.S.
and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.”
And then goes on to do the
course-correction that was long overdue by writing specifically against the
major India centric terror groups like LeT and JeM and holding Pakistan
accountable for not doing enough, “The government did not take any significant
action against LeT or JeM, other than implementing an ongoing ban against media
coverage of their activities. LeT and JeM continued to hold rallies, raise
money, recruit, and train in Pakistan.”