Next U.S. Ambassador To Pakistan Will Engage With Country Beset By Terror Issues

(New York, N.Y.) — On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate held a confirmation hearing for President Joe Biden’s nominee, Donald Blome, to serve as ambassador to Pakistan. He is presently the U.S. ambassador to Tunisia. If confirmed, Ambassador Blome will pilot U.S. engagement in a country beset by challenges, including terrorism and terror financing. Underscoring Pakistan’s volatility, the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), announced last week the end of the ceasefire agreement it reached with the Pakistani government in November. The TTP is a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Pakistan is home to one of the largest concentrations of terrorist groups in the world including at least five identified and sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council. Laskhar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Harakut ul Mujahidin, Lashkar-i Jhangvi, and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar all operate in Pakistan in addition to the TTP and ISIS-K. Ambassador Blome testified that he would “press Pakistan to target all terrorist groups without distinction.” The Pakistani government uses a tailored approach, distinguishing between groups that it defines as a threat to domestic security and other al-Qaeda affiliates that Pakistan feels are generally helpful in its competition with its regional rivals.

Ambassador Blome also testified that he would “work with Pakistan to resolve market access issues,” which may similarly prove to be an uphill battle given Pakistan’s history of deficiencies in its policing of terror financing.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has placed Pakistan on its “grey list” of nations that maintain insufficient anti-money laundering/counter terror financing (AML/CTF) mechanisms. In June 2018, Pakistan committed to work with the FATF to improve its AML/CTF policies. In February 2019, the FATF reported that Pakistan has made “limited progress.” According to the FATF, Pakistan “does not demonstrate a proper understanding” of the terror financing risks posed by al-Qaeda, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and other terror groups. This past October, the FATF noted Pakistan has made significant progress in addressing its deficiencies but still needed to demonstrate that Task Force investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of U.N.-designated terrorist groups.

To read Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource Pakistan, please click here.

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