ISLAMABAD         -          Pakistan yesterday rejected the US Department of State’s Country Report on Terrorism 2018, concerning its counter-terrorism efforts, saying it “completely overlooks” the factual position.

A foreign ministry statement said the report “completely overlooks the factual situation on the ground and the tremendous contribution made and sacrifices rendered by Pakistan over the last two decades in the international struggle against terrorism.”

It added: “These efforts have not only resulted in the elimination of Al-Qaeda from this region, but have also made the world a safer place.”

The US State Department report on terrorism - mandated by the US Congress – criticised Pakistan for allegedly failing to significantly limit terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad from “raising money, recruiting, and training in Pakistan” and allowing “candidates overtly affiliated with LeT front organisations to contest the July 2018 general elections.”

The report, released last week, said that although Pakistan’s laws comply with international anti-money laundering and terrorism financing standards, the “authorities failed to uniformly implement UN sanctions related to designated entities and individuals such as LeT and its affiliates, which continued to make use of economic resources and raise funds.”

The US report, which comes close on the heels of the warnings by Paris-headquartered anti-money laundering multilateral body Financial Action Task Force to Pakistan, also referred to the country’s support to political reconciliation between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban.

The report however, said Pakistan “did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network from operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening the US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan”.

The foreign ministry said Pakistan was committed to take concrete actions under its National Action Plan. “Pakistan has taken extensive legal and administrative measures for implementation of its obligations under the UNSC 1267 sanctions regime for the freezing of assets and denial of funds and economic resources to all designated entities and individuals. “Pakistan is continuing actions to fully implement the FATF Action Plan,” it said.

As noted in the Report, Pakistan faces the threat of terrorism from a number of groups including Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar and Islamic State Khorasan Province.

The report, however, fails to mention that these groups continue to operate and conduct terrorist activities against Pakistan from across the border, the statement added.

Pakistan, it said, had facilitated US and Taliban direct talks in the context of the Afghan peace and reconciliation process in good faith. Pakistan’s positive contribution in this regard has been widely acknowledged, including by the United States and its leadership.

Any insinuation to the contrary is unwarranted and is inconsistent with the positive trajectory of the bilateral relations, it said. “We have always stressed that counter-terrorism efforts can be effectively advanced through constructive engagement. We hope Pakistan’s commitment, contributions and sacrifices would be fully recognized and appreciated in the right perspective,” the statement said.

Separately yesterday, the foreign ministry said the Afghan ambassador in Pakistan was not mistreated. “We have seen the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and reject the assertion of “mistreatment” of the Afghan Ambassador. The government of Pakistan extends due respect and courtesies and expects that the foreign envoys conform to the established diplomatic norms and principles,” a statement released by the ministry said.

It added: “As for the personnel of Pakistan’s diplomatic Missions in Afghanistan, who are being systematically harassed for the past few days, our concerns have already been conveyed to the Afghan government, we urge the Afghan authorities to take immediate steps to ensure safety and security of the personnel of Pakistan’s diplomatic Missions in Afghanistan.”

This week, tension between Pakistan and Afghan intensified as Islamabad shut its embassy in Kabul. Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul announced it will remain shut indefinitely following the harassment of its diplomats by residents of Afghanistan’s capital.

Islamabad had also summoned Afghanistan’s charge d’affaires to protest the harassment of Pakistani diplomats in Kabul.