Pakistan rejects BRICS declaration that named LeT, JeM as threats to regional security
Pakistan on Tuesday rejected BRICS Xiamen Declaration that named the Pakistan-based groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) as threat to regional security with its Defence Minister saying no group operates freely inside the country.
"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.
“But Pakistan, we reject this thing categorically, no terrorist organization has any complete safe havens," he said.
The minister claimed that there is "safe haven" for terrorists on Pakistani 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.
His statement comes a day after BRICS countries on Monday named the Pakistan-based groups including LeT and JeM while calling for a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism.
"We express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al Qaeda and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) and Hizb ut-Tahrir," said the Xiamen declaration, adopted at the 9th BRICS Summit at the Chinese city.
The 43-page 'Xiamen Declaration' was adopted at the end of the five-nation BRICS plenary that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Presidents Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Michel Temer of Brazil and Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
The declaration is being hailed as a big diplomatic win for India in its campaign against terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
JeM chief Masood Azhar has been blamed for deadly cross-border terror attacks on Indian military establishments. India has moved the United Nations to declare Azhar an international terrorist but China has repeatedly put a hold on the proposal. The LeT, led by Hafiz Saeed, was held responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that left 166 people dead.
Talking to media, Dastagir said forty per cent of Afghanistan is a safe haven for terrorists.
Citing a report by the US Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, Dastagir said of the 407 Afghan districts, only 57 per cent are under their control.
"The foreign minister will consult regional partners and then proceed to the US," he said when asked about Pakistan's plan following US President Donald Trump's recent comments.
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," Dastagir 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.