Pakistan has to restrict activities of LeT, JeM: Foreign minister Khawaja Asif
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Pakistan has to restrict activities of LeT, JeM: Foreign minister Khawaja Asif

Asif also said Pakistan could no longer afford to “test” its friends such as China on the issue of terrorism

world Updated: Sep 07, 2017 10:03 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif,Brics declaration,LeT
Foreign minister Khawaja Asif (second from right) along with interior minister Ahsan Iqbal and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Islamabad on July 10, 2017.(AP)

Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif has acknowledged the need to restrict the activities of terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed so that the country can tell the world community that it has put its “house in order”.

Asif made the remarks during an appearance on Geo News channel while reacting to the BRICS declaration that bracketed Pakistan-based LeT and JeM with the Islamic State and al-Qaida, and described them as a threat to regional security.

He indicated Pakistan could no longer afford to “test” its friends such as China on the issue of counter-terrorism as there had been changes around the world in dealing with the menace.

“As long as we turn a blind eye to these organisations in our country, we will continue to face such embarrassments,” Asif said while responding to a question on the Xiamen declaration of Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and China (Brics) naming the LeT and JeM.

“We must make a clean break from our past,” he added, referring to the way in which militant groups got a boost after Pakistan joined US-led efforts against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Referring to China opposing India’s efforts to include the names of Pakistan-based terror groups in the declaration issued after the last Brics Summit in Goa, Asif said, “We can’t test our friends, particularly in a dynamic scenario.

“Within our country, we should impose some restrictions on the activities of the JeM and LeT so that we can tell the world we have set our house in order.”

However, Asif also said the Brics declaration should not be considered China’s official stance as other countries are part of the grouping. He also hailed China’s role in ensuring that the declaration included the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which he said is based in Afghanistan and carries out attacks in Pakistan.

Asif tacitly referred to action by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force that forced Pakistan to place LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed under house arrest. The FATF, which tracks terror financing round the world, has been pressuring Pakistan to crack down on groups such as LeT and JeM.

“The FATF has a threshold, we are at a very dangerous threshold. The whole world is pointing fingers at us, we must put our house in order,” he said.

Asif said Pakistan also needs to question whether it had fully implemented its National Action Plan (NAP) on terrorism that was framed after a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in 2014 killed nearly 150 people.

“Did we take the measures we had decided (to take), besides Operations Zarb-e-Azb, Raddul Fassad and Khyber 4 during the last three years? Did we show the world that we acted according to the resolve we made in 2014?” he said.

Though the interior ministry published an advertisement that directed people not to donate the hides of animals sacrificed during Eid-ul-Azha to banned organisations such as LeT, this directive was violated at some “isolated places”, Asif said.

The civilian and military leadership were on the same page on the need to act against terror groups, he said. But he added, “As long as they (terror groups) are out in the public, others won’t believe us.”

First Published: Sep 06, 2017 16:55 IST