Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif
warned that the country would continue to face "embarrassment" if terrorist groups like the LeT
were not reined in. Asif's statement came even as he is scheduled to visit China on Friday in the aftermath of the BRICS declaration on terror and US President Donald Trump's new Afghanistan policy.
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.
Asif acknowledged the existence of LeT
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," Asif said while speaking to Geo News yesterday, days ahead of his visit to Beijing to meet the Chinese leadership.
According to 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.
The inclusion of LeT
in the BRICS Declaration at Xiamen is considered a setback to Pakistan, China's "all weather" friend as Beijing had succeeded in blocking efforts to name these Pakistan-based terror outfits in the outcome document at the five-member grouping's summit in Goa last year.
But Asif said that "friends should not be tested [every time], particularly in the changed scenario".
"Instead, we should impose some restrictions on the activities of elements like LeT
and JeM, so that we can show the global community that we have put our house in order," he said.
"We need to ask ourselves have we acted upon the National
Action Plan (NAP) in letter and spirit? Did we take the measures we had decided on, besides Operation Zarb-i-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?", Asif asked.
Clarifying the position of the government, he said that for the first time, the Foreign Ministry published an advertisement, requesting people to avoid donating hides of sacrificial animals to proscribed organisations, including the LeT
"Despite all these efforts, in some isolated instances, the organisations were allowed [to collect hides] at some places," he acknowledged.
He reiterated that Pakistan must put its affairs in order, given that the "entire world is pointing fingers towards us."
"I am not making a political statement but telling you a fact: we will continue to face such embarrassment till the time we keep our eyes off these [militant] organisations in our country," he was quoted as saying.
"We need to make a clean break from our past; in 1979, we made a wrong decision and acted like a proxy for the entire next decade. After 9/11, we again made a wrong decision and adopted a war which was never ours. We have suffered uncountable losses of lives and properties in this war," he said.
Pakistan Army has done its part, said Asif, asking, "But did we do our work; did we implement the NAP, did we complete the process of de-radicalisation, did we bring the activities of banned outfits to a halt or are they active and even participating in politics with changed names?"
The minister rejected the narrative that Pakistani soil is being used for terrorism, adding that "we will have to convince the world that Pakistan has nothing to do with the terrorism.
Asif heads to China
Asif will visit China on Friday to review bilateral relations and garner support for his country, which is facing mounting international pressure to act against terror groups.
During the visit, the foreign minister will hold meetings with China's State Councillor for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
"The two sides will review bilateral relations and regional developments, including the situation in Afghanistan," Pakistan Foreign Office said.
Officials said that the visit was part of efforts to develop support for Pakistan after US President Donald Trump
criticised Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists.
Asif will also visit Russia, Turkey and Iran after his trip to China.
Realisation dawns upon Pakistan
With the BRICS declaration for the first time naming Pakistan-based anti-India terror groups like the LeT
for their violent activities, an editorial in Dawn
on Wednesday noted that Islamabad "must not make the mistake of dismissing the signal" from the five-member bloc.
"The message is uniform from friend and foe alike: Pakistan's tolerance for externally oriented militant groups is no longer acceptable and a serious national
effort needs to be made if the country is to remain on the right side of international opinion," the editorial, titled "BRICS Declaration" said.
It said that the significance of the BRICS declaration that included a condemnation of violence in Afghanistan and a specific mention of the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad
"should not be underestimated".