Pentagon voices concern over Pak's safe havens for terrorists

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Washington, Jan 10: The Pentagon has expressed serious concern over Pakistan being a safe haven for terrorists while US experts said the country's approach towards terrorist groups operating in India and Afghanistan has not changed.

"The sanctuary that some of these groups enjoy in Pakistan has long been an issue of concern for us, it's long been a topic of discussion with our Pakistani counterparts," the Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters at a news conference.

terrorist

Pentagon's statement comes days after the State Department said that in the last few years, it has not been able to provide the necessary Congressional-mandated certification to Pakistan that it has been taking action against terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani network. Both in 2013 and 2014, the State Department carried out the review of Pakistan's approach against terrorism and other measures as mandated by the Congress.

The review found out that Pakistan does not meet the criteria, even as US officials noted that some progress has been made. In the absence of such a certification, the Secretary of State had to issue the national interest waiver for the Obama Administration to release funds to Pakistan.

"It (terrorist safe haven) is a common threat, a common challenge that we all have to continue to work on together and to look for ways to improve that cooperation," Kirby said as top American counter-terrorism experts and South Asia experts concluded that Pakistan approach towards India and Afghan-centric terrorist outfits have not changed and the world should not expect any change either, despite the recent killing of innocent children in a Peshawar school.

"The ISI has not changed its behaviour. It remains the patron of LeT and the Quetta Shura," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official, who is now considered to be a top counter-terrorism expert on Pakistan told PTI. "Pakistan is increasingly a victim of the blowback from ISI's years of patronizing terror but the Army has not changed, " Bruce said.

PTI

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