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Published On: Thu, Sep 7th, 2017

Pakistan could no longer afford to test its friends like China: Khawaja Asif

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khawaja-asif_2a643286-92f6-11e7-b219-301a51d93d0dISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said the country needs to restrict activities of terror groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Laskar-e-Taiba. Asif told the Geo News channel that action needs to be taken against such groups so Pakistan can tell the world that it has put its “house in order”.

Mr Asif’s admission came two days after the BRICS grouping that includes China, for the first time named terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) among the internationally banned outfits operating from within Pakistan. US President Donald Trump had also criticised Pakistan for being a “safe haven” for terror groups like the Haqqani network.Mr Asif acknowledged the existence of LeT and JeM among the internationally banned outfits operating from within Pakistan.
“We need to tell our friends that we have improved our house. We need to bring our house in order to prevent facing embarrassment on the international level,” Mr Asif said while speaking to Pakistan’s Geo News on Tuesday, days ahead of his visit to Beijing to meet the Chinese leadership. According to Mr Asif, the BRICS declaration should not be considered as China’s official stance as other countries Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa are also a part of the group.

Asif also indicated that Pakistan could no longer afford to test its friends like China on terrorism. The statement is significant as China has over the years emerged as Pakistan’s most important ally and had consistently backed it on international fora till the BRICS declaration. “As long as we turn a blind eye to these organisations in our country we will continue to face such embarrassments,” he said, when asked about the BRICS declaration.

Asif also referred to the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force. An investigation by the intergovernmental organisation which tracks terror financing worldwide had forced Pakistan to place LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed under house arrest. The FATF has also been putting pressure on the country 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. The minister questioned whether Pakistan has implemented its National Action Plan on Terrorism.
“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. The document was drawn up in 2014 after a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar killed nearly 150 people.

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