Under mounting international pressure to act against the terror groups, Pakistan today rejected a declaration by the BRICS nations, including China, saying there was no “safe haven” for terrorists on its soil.
Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations at the BRICS Summit in China’s Xiamen yesterday and expressed concern over threat posed by terror groups, including those based in Pakistan.
The 43-page declaration, adopted at the end of the BRICS plenary, expressed “concern” over the security situation in the region and the violence caused by the Taliban, ISIS, al-Qaeda and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Hizb ut-Tahrir.
“We reject the declaration (released by member countries) at the BRICS Summit,” Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir said during a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence.
Dastgir claimed that Pakistan has no “safe haven” for terrorists on its soil.
“Pakistan has taken action against all groups on its soil and only the remnants of some are left,” he was quoted as saying by the Geo TV.
“Forty per cent of Afghanistan is a safe haven for terrorists,” he said, later while talking to the media.
Citing a report by the US Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, Dastgir said of the 407 Afghan districts, only 57 per cent are under their control.
Later, the Foreign Office (FO) issued a brief statement about the BRICS’ leaders summit document naming various militants groups including LeT and JeM.
“Pakistan is also seriously concerned about the threat posed by terrorism and extremism in the South Asian region,” it said, adding that terrorist groups based in the region, including in Afghanistan, such as the TTP and its associates like Jamatul Ahrar have been responsible for extreme acts of violence against Pakistani people.
“We are deeply concerned at the presence of groups like Daesh (ISIS), ETIM and IMU in the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan as they pose a threat to peace and security in the region,” it said.
Pakistan was also “concerned at the rise of extremist ideologies and intolerance in the region encouraging social stratification and systematic targeting of minorities,” the statement added.
When asked about Pakistan’s plan following US President Donald Trump’s recent comments, Defence Minister Dastgir said that Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif will consult regional partners and then proceed to the US.
Trump, in his first prime-time televised address to announce his Afghanistan and South Asia policy, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.
He also slammed Pakistan for its support to terror groups and warned Islamabad of consequences if it continues to do so.
“This will result in better engagement as we want to resolve all matters peacefully since any American action in Pakistan will cause instability,” Dastgir added.
In response to a question, the defence minister said strict surveillance is being conducted of Pakistan’s ground, aerial and naval borders, adding that the country faces no danger of foreign aggression.