Pakistan

Overview:  In 2022, Pakistan took steps to counter terrorism financing and restrain some India-focused terrorist groups.  In May, Pakistan successfully prosecuted FBI most-wanted criminal and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba senior leader Sajid Mir on terrorist financing charges; he was then sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.  In September, Pakistan deported three U.S. citizens to the United States, after completion of custodial sentences in Pakistan, to face prosecution for terrorism-related crimes.  Pakistan took steps to curtail the activities of terrorist groups, though it has yet to complete its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organizations without delay or discrimination.

In October, the FATF removed Pakistan from the “gray list” of countries identified as jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT systems.  Pakistan had been on the gray list since 2018.

Pakistan experienced increased terrorist threats in 2022.  The number of attacks and casualties was higher than in 2021.  Major terrorist groups that focused on conducting attacks in the country included the TTP, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and ISIS-K.  Separatist militant groups conducted terrorist attacks against varied targets in Balochistan, Punjab, and Sindh provinces.  TTP posed a significant threat to Pakistani police, military, and security services in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.  In attacking various targets, terrorists used a range of tactics, including IEDs, VBIEDs, suicide bombings, and targeted assassinations.

Since 2018, Pakistan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.  It was redesignated a CPC in 2022.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  Pakistan experienced increased terrorist attacks in 2022.  All posts across U.S. Mission Pakistan carried “high” or “critical” threat ratings on the Security Environment Threat List.  Members of religious minority groups faced significant threats from violent extremist groups.  The following examples are some of the more-destructive and higher-profile incidents and show a variety of methods, targets, and perpetrators:

  • On February 2, militants attacked two Pakistani paramilitary bases in Balochistan. The BLA claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks, which employed VBIEDs, small arms, and rocket propelled grenades.  At least four soldiers were killed and more than 20 were injured according to Pakistan’s military public relations branch, Inter-Services Public Relations.
  • On March 4 a suicide attack on a Shia mosque in central Peshawar during Friday prayers killed more than 60 people and wounded over 100. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • On April 26 a BLA suicide bomber detonated an explosive device outside the Confucius Institute in Karachi, killing five employees – three PRC and two Pakistani nationals. Several others were injured in the attack, for which the BLA claimed responsibility.  The attack was the first time the BLA deployed a woman suicide bomber.
  • On November 15, six police officers were killed during an attack on a police convoy in KP. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • On December 23 a suicide IED detonation on the outskirts of Islamabad killed one police officer and injured several others. The TTP attacker was intercepted at a security checkpoint en route to a high-profile target in Islamabad.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  The Pakistani government continued to implement the Antiterrorism Act of 1997, the National Counterterrorism Authority (NACTA) Act, the 2014 Investigation for Fair Trial Act, and major 2014 and 2020 amendments to the Antiterrorism Act, all of which give law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts enhanced powers in terrorism cases.

Military, paramilitary, and civilian security forces conducted CT operations throughout Pakistan against anti-state militants in 2022.  Pakistani law allows for preventive detention, permits the death penalty for terrorism offenses, and creates specialized courts to try terrorism cases.

Pakistan collects biometric information at land crossings through its International Border Management Security System.  The Customs Service attempted to enforce anti-money laundering laws and foreign exchange regulations at all major airports, in coordination with other agencies.  Customs managed the entry of dual-use chemicals for legitimate purposes through end-use verification, while also attempting to prevent their diversion for use in IEDs.

Consistent with United Nations Security Council resolution 2178, returning foreign terrorist fighters may be prosecuted under Pakistani law.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Pakistan is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, and its FIU is the Financial Monitoring Unit Pakistan.  FATF removed Pakistan from its gray list in October.  Pakistan continued to face significant money-laundering and terrorist financing risks.  In 2022, several terrorist organizations, including UN-listed groups, operated in the country, raising funds through a variety of means such as direct support, public fundraising, abuse of non-profit organizations, and criminal activities.  Funds are moved through formal and informal (hawala/hundi) channels and through bulk cash smuggling.  Pakistan’s geographic landscape and porous borders increase its vulnerability and risk to terrorist financing.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2022 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The government in 2022 continued to operate “deradicalization” camps offering “corrective religious education,” vocational training, counseling, and therapy.  A Pakistani NGO administered the juvenile-focused Sabaoon Rehabilitation Center in Swat Valley, which it founded in partnership with the Pakistani military.  Additional deradicalization centers operate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Some madrassas continued to teach “extremist” doctrine.  Some failed to register with the government, to provide documentation of their sources of funding, or to comply with laws governing acceptance of foreign students.  Pakistan promotes an “official narrative” to counter religious-based violent extremism though the Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative, coordinated through the NACTA.  In 2022, top religious authorities utilized the initiative to issue fatwas against terrorism.

The Pakistani cities of Nowshera, Peshawar, and Quetta are members of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Pakistan participated in several formal and informal multilateral fora where CT cooperation was discussed, including the GCTF and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

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