Pakistan commits to act against LeT, Hafiz Saeed

WASHINGTON: Pakistan on Thursday committed to take “effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations,” after Washington held its feet to the fire on the terrorism issue affecting India, while backing Islamabad’s efforts to re-engage New Delhi.

The commitment, contained in a joint statement issued at the end of a meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, came after Islamabad persuaded Washington to press India for talks, including on border tensions. Any confidence-building measures and mechanisms to address these tensions should be on terms mutually acceptable to India and Pakistan, the statement said, effectively sticking to Washington’s bilateral approach that abjures third party intervention or mediation. Pakistan has long been trying to internationalize the issue while seeking to blame India for the more recent incidents which New Delhi says is a result of Pakistan trying to infiltrate terrorists into India.

“The two leaders expressed concern over violence along the Line of Control, and noted their support for confidence-building measures and effective mechanisms that are acceptable to both parties,” the joint statement said without adducing blame for the border tensions. In an oblique acknowledgement of Pakistan’s allegations about Indian interference inside Pakistan, it added the two leaders “emphasized the importance of a sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbours aimed at resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes, including Kashmir, through peaceful means and working together to address mutual concerns of India and Pakistan regarding terrorism.”

It was in this context that Sharif apprised Obama of Pakistan’s resolve to act against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates, “as per its international commitments and obligations under UN Security Council resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force.” India does not have any UN designated terrorists, and the commitment puts the spotlight squarely on LeT supreme Hafiz Saeed, a protege of the Pakistani military establishment. There has been no acknowledge so far from Washington about the dossier Pakistan has reportedly given to the administration alleging Indian subversive activity inside Pakistan.

The statement said though that “Prime Minister Sharif reaffirmed that Pakistan’s territory will not be used against any other country and noted that this is an obligation of all countries in the region,” without recording Obama’s observation on the matter. Pakistan has been trying, without success, to charge India and Afghanistan with subversive activity in its territory, but the phrasing of the joint statement indicated Washington, while obliquely acknowledging the dossier, has taken no cognizance of the allegations, which are widely seen as spurious and an attempt to absolve itself of charges of fostering terrorism.

Instead, the statement was replete with references to Pakistan’s obligations to end terrorism from its soil, including a commitment from Sharif to ensure that the Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, are unable to operate from the soil of Pakistan. “Both leaders noted that the stability of South Asia depended on cooperation among all neighbors to suppress all extremist and militant groups operating in the region,” the joint statement said.

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The statement said Sharif also reiterated Pakistan’s firm resolve not to allow any ISIL/Daesh footprint in Pakistan, and that President Obama raised his concern regarding the US nationals being held hostage by terrorist groups in the region. Sharif indicated that Pakistan would assist in every way possible with the safe return of American and other hostages, it added.

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