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Pakistan rejects Brics statement on presence of terror groups on its soil

Pakistan on Tuesday rejected a statement by the five emerging-market BRICS powers that militant groups in Pakistan pose a regional security concern

world Updated: Sep 05, 2017 22:09 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan,BRICS Summit,Terrorism
The groups named by the Brics include anti-India terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which have a presence in Pakistan.(AFP)

Pakistan on Tuesday rejected a statement by Brics that terror groups based on its soil such as JeM and LeT pose a threat to regional security, with defence minister Khurram Dastagir Khan saying the country does not provide safe haven to such organisations. (Brics updates)

“We have already said that there are no terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan,” Khan told the media after a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet in Islamabad.

“Terrorist safe havens are found in Afghanistan. Pakistan does not fear any external aggression as its army, navy and air force are keeping a strict eye on the situation,” he added.

“These organisations, they have some of their remnants in Pakistan, which we’re cleaning,” Khan also told Geo News channel, without specifying which groups he was referring to.

“But Pakistan, we reject this thing categorically, no terrorist organisation has any complete safe havens.”

Khan’s response followed a declaration on Monday by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that called for patrons of Pakistan-based terror groups to be held to account.

A brief statement issued by the Foreign Office spokesperson in response to the Brics declaration said Pakistan was “seriously concerned” about the threat posed by terrorism in South Asia. It noted that groups based in the region, including Afghanistan, such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its associates like Jamaat-ul-Ahrar “have been responsible for extreme acts of violence against Pakistani people”.

The statement, however, was silent on anti-India terror groups Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), blamed for the 2001 attack on India’s parliament, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which killed 166 people during a brazen assault on the financial hub of Mumbai in 2008.

It added that Pakistan was “deeply concerned” by the presence of Islamic State, Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the “ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan” as they pose a threat to regional security.

For the first time, Brics bracketed the JeM and LeT with the Islamic State and al-Qaida in the Xiamen Declaration that was issued after the grouping’s summit in the coastal Chinese city.

The declaration also named the Haqqani Network, which is part of the Afghan Taliban and targets US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan, and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

The US warned Pakistan that it could cut military aid if the country doesn’t do more to tackle terror sanctuaries on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border. China is also concerned about Islamist influence spilling over from Pakistan and Afghanistan into its far-western Xinjiang region.

Countries attending a December conference aimed at stabilising Afghanistan made a similar statement, naming several Pakistan-based terror groups as a source of concern.

First Published: Sep 05, 2017 17:33 IST