Tag Archives: Counterterrorism

US report on Counterterrorism indicts Pakistan on several counts

Lalit Shastri

Pakistan and CounterterorismThe “Country Reports on Terrorism 2014” prepared by the Bureau of Counterterrorism and released by the US Department of State recently indicts Pakistan on several counts on the issue of counterterrorism cooperation.

The chapter dealing with Pakistan in the Bureau of Counterterrorism Report underscores that 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 but at the same time points out in categorical terms that counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan during 2014 was mixed, and Pakistan continued to deny visas for trainers focused on law enforcement and civilian counterterrorism assistance.

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.

The Report goes on to assert that Anti-Terrorism Courts in Pakistan 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).

It has further been highlighted that Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on information sharing and law enforcement 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 but practical implementation of this pledge also has been lacking, it has been pointed out in the Report.

While bringing in focus Pakistan’s role as 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, the Report says, 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 in June 2014 but since then, despite the ability to freeze and confiscate terrorist assets, Pakistan had not yet implemented that legislation (till the end of 2014). [More on Pakistan and Money laundering]

The Report reveals that the 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 Pakistan government was not prosecuting such cases. Although Pakistan added some named groups to its proscribed organizations list, implementation of UNSCRs 1267 and 1988 remained weak. Pakistan also issued a UNSC Enforcement Order in 2012 setting out a range of sanctions for non-compliance in the implementation of UNSCR 1267, but had not used this authority. The FATF has determined that Pakistan needs to increase the administrative monetary penalty available or legislate for additional criminal sanctions.


The Bureau of Counterterrorism leads the Department of State in the whole-of-government effort to counter terrorism abroad and to secure the United States against foreign terrorist threats.

The predecessor organization to the Bureau of Counterterrorism was the Office for Combating Terrorism, created in 1972 upon the recommendation of a special committee appointed by President Richard Nixon following the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics. The committee determined that an office was needed within the Department of State to provide day-to-day counterterrorism coordination and to develop policy initiatives and responses for the U.S. government. The Office for Combating Terrorism became the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in 1985, and the Bureau of Counterterrorism in 2012.

 

Obama’s budget request for 2016: Critical investments in diplomacy and development

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Heather Higginbottom,    Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and Rajiv Shah Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development , Washington, DC February 2, 2015
Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and Rajiv Shah Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development ,Washington, DC, February 2, 2015

Washington DC, Feb. 3: US President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2016 Budget requests that include critical investments in diplomacy and development to “secure peace and stability for the American people, strengthen the U.S. economy and global markets, and support U.S. citizens and diplomatic and development presence overseas.

Two weeks ago, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama had said, “If there’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separate our work at home from the challenges beyond our shores.”


 Obama’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016

Middle Class Economics: The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget

US President Barack Obama

US President’s 2016 Budget is designed to “bring middle class economics into the 21st Century.

This Budget shows what we can do if we invest in America’s future and commit to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes, and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America. It lays out a strategy to strengthen our middle class and help America’s hard-working families get ahead in a time of relentless economic and technological change. And it makes the critical investments needed to accelerate and sustain economic growth in the long run, including in research, education, training, and infrastructure.

These proposals will help working families feel more secure with paychecks that go further, help American workers upgrade their skills so they can compete for higher-paying jobs, and help create the conditions for our businesses to keep generating good new jobs for our workers to fill, while also fulfilling our most basic responsibility to keep Americans safe. We will make these investments, and end the harmful spending cuts known as sequestration, by cutting inefficient spending and reforming our broken tax code to make sure everyone pays their fair share. We can do all this while also putting our Nation on a more sustainable fiscal path. The Budget achieves about $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, primarily from reforms to health programs, our tax code, and immigration.

 


Briefing media-persons here Heather Higginbottom, US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, said State and USAID budget request totals $50.3 billion, which is roughly 1 percent of the federal budget. Our base budget request is $43.2 billion. This will allow us to address ongoing and emerging national security challenges, carry out our global diplomatic and development mission, advance the President’s signature policy and development initiatives, honor our security commitments to allies and partners, and carry out conflict prevention, nonproliferation, and peacekeeping activities around the world. We’ve also requested $7 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds to respond to immediate and extraordinary national security requirements. OCO funds will support critical programs and operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as exceptional costs related to our efforts to fight ISIL, respond to the conflict in Syria, and support Ukraine.

Ms. Higginbottom said: “These funds will address the underlying social, governance, and economic factors in Central America that drove last year’s crisis in unaccompanied migration – child migration, while helping Mexico secure its southern border. Our goal is to partner with our neighbors in Central America to mitigate these underlying factors before their youth risk the dangerous journey north and arrive at our border.”

For Afghanistan, the budgetary request includes $1.5 billion in assistance, which will support the Afghan unity government as it strives to implement key reforms, improve its economy, and work with us on shared security issues. Our budget request also provides $963 million to secure and support embassy operations, including $125 million to harden Embassy Kabul, all of which will enable a significant reduction in our military presence. With a new, reform-minded Afghan Government in place, we have the opportunity to solidify the progress we have made in Afghanistan over the last decade. Our request continues the security, economic, and civilian programs necessary to do so.

As part of the Administration’s collaboration with coalition partners to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, the request includes $3.5 billion to strengthen regional partners, provide humanitarian assistance, and strengthen Syria’s moderate opposition to advance the conditions for a negotiated political transition. The request also includes an additional $1.1 billion to support diplomatic engagement with Iraq to sustain our strategic partnership.

Last year at West Point, Ms. Higginbottom said, President Obama announced the creation of a Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund that will enable us to train, build capacity, and help facilitate partner countries on the front lines against terrorism. Our request includes $390 million to support the CTPF through security and stabilization assistance and through efforts to counter violent extremism and terrorist ideology.

The budget also includes vital support for Ukraine to counter Russian pressure and aggressive actions. This includes $275 million to support an additional loan guarantee of up to $1 billion if Ukraine continues to make progress on its IMF program and if other conditions warrant. Our request also provides support for democracy and anti-corruption measures, European integration, energy security, and public diplomacy strategies to counter Russian propaganda throughout Europe and Central Asia.

The request also provides over $5 billion for international organizations and peacekeeping efforts. These funds strengthen our strategic relationships across the globe and enable us to advance global security while sharing the burden with other nations. Our assessed contribution supports 17 UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and the Middle East and satisfy U.S. obligations to the UN and 44 other organizations.

At the same time, the request will address urgent and growing humanitarian needs around the world. We are now facing four large-scale crises in Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Iraq. To address this unprecedented challenge, we are seeking a total of $5.6 billion in humanitarian funding.

Shifting gears a bit, according to Ms.Higginbottom, the US is investing over $800 million in clean energy, sustainable landscapes, and adaptation through the Global Climate Change Initiative. This includes $350 million of a State Department contribution to the Green Climate Fund, a new multilateral fund that will help developing countries gain access to public and private finance to invest in reducing carbon pollution and strengthening resilience to climate change.

Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development said on this occasion that over the last years, investments have been refocssed to make sure that work is done in such a way that over time, our aid and assistance is no longer necessary, where self-sufficiency can replace the need for outside assistance. The President’s budget request this year includes $22.3 billion that USAID. These critical resources will allow the US to advance the country’s interests in a far-ranging set of contexts. By leveraging public-private partnerships and harnessing the power of technology, science, and innovation, the US will now able to deliver clear, focused, and measurable results with these resources, he added.

When I started five years ago, Mr. shah said, just 8 percent of USAID’s global investment focused on public-private partnerships. Today, it’s about 40 percent and the 2016 budget request will take that number to 46 percent. Nowhere has this focus on delivering real, measurable results been more significant than in our work in global health. The foreign assistance budget includes $8.2 billion for funding for global health, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, child and maternal survival, and a broad range of programs that tackle neglected tropical diseases, including Ebola.

Mr. Shah pointed out that these resources underscore our commitment to helping to realize the goal of ensuring that every child survives until the age of five and thrives beyond that timeframe. To achieve this goal, we’ve already narrowed our focus of investment in our Child Survival program to 24 countries that account for 70 percent of under-five child deaths and maternal deaths. As a result, in the past two years alone in those countries, we’ve delivered an 8 percent reduction in child mortality, more than doubling the baseline rate of reduction in child deaths.