Pakistan has to restrict activities of LeT, JeM, says foreign minister Khawaja Asif

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 he was 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 also indicated Pakistan could no longer afford to “test” its friends such as China on the issue of terrorism as there had been dynamic 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 had 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.”

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 also said Pakistan 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 in Peshawar in 2014 killed nearly 150 people.

“Did we take the measures we had decided (to take), besides Operation 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 had 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 a few 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.”

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