Contrary to Pakistan’s usual stand of denial when it comes to terror groups using its territory to launch attacks on targets in neigbouring countries, Pakistan’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday admitted that militant groups Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba operate from its soil. The minister said that Pakistan needs to restrict the activities of these terror groups so it can tell the world that it has put its “house in order”.
"We should impose restrictions on activities of elements like LeT and JeM so that we can show the global community that we've put our house in order," Asif told Geo News in an admission that these terror groups operate from its territory.
The remark, made in an interview, come as a first sign of admission from Pakistan that the two groups –JeM and LeT—do operate from its soil. The remark came following the BRICS declaration in Xiamen, China, that named these two terror groups as being responsible for causing violence in the region.
The minister further said that Pakistan could no longer afford to “test” friends such as China.
"Friends should not be tested, 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," Khwaja Asif told Geo News while reacting to the BRICS declaration that raised "regional security concern" over the militant groups operating in Pakistan.
The remarks by the Foreign minister come in stark contrast to what its own Foreign Office had said soon reacting to the BRICS declaration was out. The FO in Islamabad, as well as defence minister Khurram Dastagir, had rejected the BRICS declaration, saying there were no safe havens for terrorists inside Pakistan. Pakistan, it said, was itself a victim of terror.
However, the Foreign minister was point-blank in his approach. “As long as we turn a blind eye to these organisations in our country we will continue to face such embarrassments,” Asif said.
"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 organisations in our country," he said.
He reiterated that Pakistan must put its affairs in order as the "entire world is pointing fingers towards us."
"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 bore uncountable losses of lives and properties in this war," he added.
Asif will pay an official visit to China on Friday, where he will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.