Military conducted significant counterterrorism operations in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies in the tribal areas
Overview: Pakistan remains a critical counterterrorism partner that is plagued with numerous violent extremist groups, many of which target Pakistani government or members of other religious sects. Counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan during 2014 was mixed, and Pakistan continued to deny visas for trainers focused on law enforcement and civilian counterterrorism assistance. In 2014, Pakistan launched a military operation in North Waziristan (later expanded to Khyber Agency) aimed at eliminating terrorist safe havens. The government’s counterterrorism efforts included providing support to the military operation and countering terrorist retaliation in urban areas. Pakistan also confronted terrorist groups that attacked Pakistani civilians, law enforcement agencies, and military and paramilitary troops. Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for a December 16 attack on an Army-run school in Peshawar, one of the country’s deadliest acts of terrorism, which it termed as retaliation for the North Waziristan military operation.
In 2014, terrorists used remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in bicycles, motorcycles, cars, and rickshaws; suicide bombers; targeted assassinations; rocket-propelled grenades; and other combat tactics to attack schools, markets, government institutions, mosques, and other places of worship. Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) and its alias organizations continued to operate freely in Pakistan, and there were no indications that Pakistan took significant enforcement actions against the group. Attacks by sectarian groups against minorities continued. However, the Shia commemoration of Ashura, which was a focal point of violence in 2013, passed without major attacks or rioting.
Karachi, in particular, continued to suffer from political and ethnic violence by different groups, including militant organizations, fundamentalist religious groups, and the militant wings of political parties. Some militant groups worked to assert control over political parties and criminal gangs operating in the city and surrounding areas of southern Sindh. The security situation in Karachi remained a priority concern for Pakistan’s leadership, which launched an operation against terrorists and criminals operating in the city.
In February, Pakistan promulgated a National Internal Security Plan (NISP) aimed at combating terrorism and addressing the drivers of violent extremism. By December, most of the policies laid out in the NISP had not been implemented. For example, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), which was to be the centerpiece of the plan focused on coordinating counterterrorism efforts across the government, remained ineffectual due to lack of a budget and bureaucratic disputes over personnel and chain of command. After the Peshawar school attack, the government formed a committee of political party, military, and intelligence representatives to produce a national plan of action against terrorism.
2014 Terrorist Incidents: Representative terrorist attacks in Pakistan included:
- On January 21, a bomb attack on a bus of pilgrims killed at least 24 Hazara and injured 40 others in Mastung District, Balochistan.
- On February 13, a suicide bomber targeted a bus of police officers, killing at least 13 and injuring 58 others near Razzakabad Police Training Center in Shah Latif Town, Karachi.
- On March 3, two suicide bombers and armed terrorists killed 11 people and injured 25 at the district court in Islamabad’s F-8 sector.
- On April 9, a bomb at an Islamabad vegetable market killed 24 people and injured 116.
- On May 25, a bomb attack on a security convoy in the Pandiyali tehsil of Mohmand Agency killed six security personnel and injured three others.
- On May 25, armed men attacked a check-post along the Quetta-Karachi Highway in Wadh tehsil of Khuzdar District, Balochistan, killing at least eight Balochistan law enforcement officials and injuring three others.
- On June 8, armed men attacked Karachi airport, killing 13 people. An Army spokesman said security forces killed all 10 of the gunmen.
- On September 6, naval security thwarted a terrorist attack on Karachi Naval Dockyard. One sailor and two attackers died in a firefight, while security forces captured four attackers. The terrorists reportedly planned to hijack a naval frigate.
- On November 2, a suicide bomber killed at least 60 people at the Wagah border crossing with India. TTP splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahraar claimed responsibility.
- On December 16, armed militants wearing paramilitary uniforms and suicide vests attacked an Army-run school in Peshawar, killing at least 144, mostly children. TTP claimed responsibility for what local media termed the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Pakistan enacted additional amendments to supplement the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 1997, and promulgated the Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA), empowering the government to counter terrorism with enhanced law-enforcement and prosecutorial powers. The country is in various stages of implementing the National Counterterrorism Authority Act, the Fair Trial Act, amendments to the ATA, and the 2014 PPA, although some of these acts may be considered lower priorities in the upcoming year following the implementation of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, and the National Action Plan. The government continued to make use of reinforced counterterrorism legislation; however, the judiciary moved slowly in processing terrorism and other criminal cases.
Pakistan promulgated new legislation in 2014 that supported the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses. The PPA augmented the ATA and established a federally empowered infrastructure with special federal courts, prosecutors, police stations, and investigation teams for the enforcement of 20 specially delineated categories of offenses. The 2014 amendments to the ATA placed additional limitations on the use of lethal force, and attempted to increase the efficiency of terrorism courts and improve court security.
Pakistan’s law enforcement and national security structure needs improvement. Although the various security agencies attempt to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents, the government’s institutional framework is not conducive to interagency cooperation and coordination. There is only sporadic interagency information sharing, no comprehensive integrated database capability, and specialized law enforcement units lack the technical equipment and training needed to implement the enhanced investigative powers provided in the 2012 Fair Trial Act. Prosecutors have a limited or inadequate role during the investigation phases of terrorism cases. Jurisdictional divisions among and between military and civilian security agencies continued to hamper effective investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases. Intimidation by terrorists against witnesses, police, victims, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges contributed both to the slow progress of cases in Anti-Terrorism Courts, and a high acquittal rate.
Pakistan continued to work toward structural reforms on counterterrorism designed to centralize coordination and information sharing. Due to constitutional requirements on the devolution of law and order responsibilities to provincial levels, counterterrorism command and control at the national level had been ad hoc and limited until the 2012-2014 legislative changes to empower federal entities. NACTA has been incorporated into the Ministry of Interior and remains in the process of establishing its mission, staffing, and responsibilities. The Intelligence Bureau has nationwide jurisdiction as a civilian agency, is fully empowered under the PPA to coordinate with provincial and territorial counterterrorism units, and is taking more of an active role in counterterrorism. The Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate has broad intelligence powers and fulfills a de facto border security role along with tribal militias, provincial police, and the Frontier Corps. The Ministry of Interior has over 20 law enforcement-related entities under its control.
Pakistan is implementing biometric collection in national databases and screening at border land crossings with the International Border Management Security system. The National Automated Database Registration Authority maintains a national biometric database of citizens, residents, and overseas Pakistanis, and is continually subject to upgrades. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan’s customs and tax authority, continues to maintain currency-detection units at 12 international airports to counter bulk cash smuggling. The FBR has improved information-sharing protocols on arrests and seizures to overcome bureaucratic hurdles. Information on arrests and seizures is now sent to a central intelligence and investigations directorate, which then disseminates the information throughout the country so customs agents have current information on trends, patterns, methods of operation, entities, and individuals. Pakistan collects advance passenger name records on commercial flights. In November, Pakistan Customs launched the End Use Verification (EUV) project, which will facilitate the entry of dual-use chemicals for legitimate purposes, while also investigating and preventing the entry of chemicals intended for use in IEDs. The EUV project consists of 80 Pakistani teams that will conduct countrywide verification checks.
The military conducted significant counterterrorism operations in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies in the tribal areas, and civilian forces conducted operations in Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab. In Karachi, security forces continued an operation against organized crime and terrorist groups. Security forces intercepted large stockpiles of weapons and explosives, and discovered bomb-making facilities and sophisticated telecommunication networks. Pakistan continued to arrest terrorists and initiate prosecutions throughout 2014. However, the enhanced tools provided by the Fair Trial Act of 2012 and the NACTA law are still in the process of being implemented by the government. These laws are designed to equip intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors with the necessary legal tools to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist activities and organizations. If fully activated, NACTA could facilitate increased coordination and collection of counterterrorism intelligence among security agencies and provincial police, and provide a vehicle for national policy and strategy formulation for all aspects of counterterrorism.
Anti-Terrorism Courts have limited procedures for the admission of foreign evidence. The trial of seven suspects accused in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack was ongoing at year’s end, with prosecution witnesses recording statements before the court. Security concerns and procedural issues resulted in a slow pace of trial proceedings. On December 18, the court granted bail to the lead defendant, alleged Mumbai attack planner and LeT operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. On December 19, the government detained Lakhvi for at least four months under the Maintenance of Public Order Act.
Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on information sharing and law enforcement continues, but needs improvement with respect to kidnapped U.S. citizens. Law enforcement cooperation continued with respect to terrorist attacks and plots against U.S. personnel, and the Embassy and Consulates General in Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar. Pakistani law-enforcement officials have pledged to assist in the apprehension of U.S. citizen fugitives in Pakistan. Practical implementation of this pledge has been lacking, however.
Delays in obtaining Pakistani visas for training personnel have been an obstacle to counterterrorism assistance for security forces and prosecutors, including assistance planned through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, most of which was redirected to other regional partners.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Pakistan is an active member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with FATF and the APG in 2010 to address its strategic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies. In June, Pakistan approved and enacted amendments to the ATA to rectify deficiencies identified by the FATF in its authority for freezing terrorist assets in accordance with international standards and UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1373. Since then, the government has had the ability to freeze and confiscate terrorist assets. However, Pakistan had not yet implemented that legislation at year’s end.
UN-designated terrorist organizations continued to skirt sanctions by reconstituting themselves under different names, often with little effort to hide their connections to previously banned groups, and the government does not prosecute CFT cases. Although Pakistan added some named groups to its proscribed organizations list, implementation of UNSCRs 1267 and 1988 remained weak. Pakistan issued a UNSC Enforcement Order in 2012 setting out a range of sanctions for non-compliance in the implementation of UNSCR 1267, but has not used this authority. The FATF has determined that Pakistan needs to increase the administrative monetary penalty available or legislate for additional criminal sanctions.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation:Pakistan participated in counterterrorism efforts in both regional and international forums. As a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Pakistan attended GCTF meetings and supported GCTF initiatives. Pakistan is a partner in the UK’s Counterterrorism Prosecution Reform Initiative, and provincial governments contributed to related rule-of-law programs in Malakand and Punjab. Pakistan participated in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation meetings on counterterrorism; is a member of Interpol; and participated in multilateral groups where counterterrorism cooperation was discussed, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (as an observer) and the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation. Pakistan participated in UNSC meetings on sanctions and counterterrorism, and in a UN Counterterrorism Committee’s Executive Directorate regional workshop for South Asian judges, prosecutors, and investigators in the Maldives in November.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States held high-level meetings to discuss regional security, including efforts to counter extremism and violence in the border region, and reconciliation efforts. Pakistan also held bilateral and multilateral meetings on security cooperation and counterterrorism with other countries, including Afghanistan, China, Germany, India, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and the UK.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations employed strategic communications strategies to counter radicalism and build support for counterterrorism initiatives. However, overall policy coordination had yet to be implemented under NACTA. Integration of reformed militants into society remains a major priority for the government; to that end, the military joined civil-society leaders to operate the Sabaoon Rehabilitation Center, a de-radicalization program that attempts to rehabilitate youth exposed to militancy through education and counseling.