As international pressure to act against terror groups mounts, Pakistan on Tuesday rejected a declaration by Brics nations and said there was no “safe haven” for terrorists on its soil.
At the Brics Summit in China’s Xiamen on Monday, leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa condemned terrorism and said they were worried about the threat posed by terror groups, including those based in Pakistan. The 43-page declaration had named anti-India militant factions such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which was blamed for a 2001 attack on India’s Parliament, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India blames for cross-border attacks, including a 2008 strike in Mumbai.
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir (pictured above) said no group operates freely inside the country. “These organisations, they have some of their remnants in Pakistan, which we are cleaning,” he told the Geo TV, without specifying which groups he was referring to.
“Terrorist safe havens are found in Afghanistan,” he told local media. “Pakistan does not fear any external aggression as its Army, Navy and Air Force are keeping a strict eye on the situation.”
However, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said the nation was “seriously concerned” about the threat posed by terrorism and extremism in South Asia, according to a Dawn report.
Pakistan has always strongly denied offering safe haven to militants groups, even as the United States has been calling on it to do more to tackle the alleged Haqqani network sanctuaries. China, too, has raised concerns about Islamist influence spilling over from Pakistan and Afghanistan into its far-western Xinjiang region.