India among world's most terror-afflicted nations: US State Department

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Washinghton, May 1 :In its latest report on terrorism, the U.S. State Department has emphatically stated that India continues to rank among the world's most terror-afflicted countries, and adds that terrorists continue to foment terrorist ideology in that country because of poor law enforcement management.

According to the report, though India is clearly committed to combatting violent extremism, the government's counter-terrorism efforts are hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems. The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir; attacks by extreme leftist Naxalites and Maoists in eastern and central India, assaults by ethno-linguistic nationalists in the north eastern states, and terrorist strikes nationwide by Islamic extremists took more than 2,300 lives this year.

It also said the Indian court system was slow, laborious, and prone to corruption; terrorism trials can take years to complete. Many of India's local police forces were poorly staffed, lacked training, and were ill-equipped to combat terrorism effectively.

Lack of security, remoteness, and inhospitable terrain combined to prevent the government from providing security and other basic services in many of the areas in which the leftist extremists and the northeastern separatist groups operated.

India, the report says is vulnerable to both the Maoists and those who claimed to be fighting for liberation in the northeast.

The United States-India Counter-terrorism Joint Working Group (CTJWG) has met nine times since its creation in 2000, most recently on November 28. India participated in CTJWGs with 15 other countries, and in multilateral CTJWGs with the EU and with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, an organization that promotes economic cooperation among Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal.

In October, the Indian government held the second round of consultations with Pakistan under the bilateral counter-terrorism joint mechanism, and hosted a ministerial level meeting of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation on Counter-terrorism.

The report further goes on to say that constructive regional cooperation is vital to a successful counter-terrorism strategy, as terrorism remains a serious problem in the South Asian and the Central Asian region, and this problem directly and indirectly threatens American interests and lives.

Increasingly, South and Central Asian terrorists have expanded their operations and networks across the region and beyond.

Despite progress in Afghanistan, the report claims that the Taliban-led insurgency remains strong and resilient in the South and East.

On the situation in Pakistan, the report says that country continues to suffer from rising militancy and extremism, and Washington remains concerned that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan are being used as a safe haven for al Qaeda terrorists, Afghan insurgents, and other extremists.

Neighbouring Bangladesh continued to arrest extremists, but porous borders and internal political strife threatened the progress made against violent extremists. Although the Caretaker Government made a concerted effort to crack down on corruption and address the root causes of violent extremism within its borders, mistrust between Bangladesh and India stymied potential counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries.

In Sri Lanka, both the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government engaged in numerous violations of the 2002 Cease-fire Agreement that left more than 5,000 people dead since hostilities started again in 2006.

The LTTE reverted to targeting civilians in bus bombings and claymore mine attacks, while the government used anti-LTTE paramilitaries to terrorize citizens suspected of having ties to the Tigers.

Both the LTTE and armed groups allied to the government engaged in widespread human rights abuses including extra-judicial killings, abductions, and extortion.

In Nepal, the report says Maoists continue to engage in violence, extortion, and abductions, and tensions remained high throughout 2007. Various separatist groups fought with the government as well as with each other as crime, abductions, and general lawlessness were evident throughout Nepal.

A sustained commitment to counter-terrorism by Central Asian states resulted in relatively few terrorist attacks in that region, the report concludes.

ANI

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