Islamabad has rejected a statement by the world’s five major rising economies that militant groups in Pakistan pose a regional security threat.
Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan said on Tuesday that no militant group operated freely inside the country.
“These organizations, they have some of their remnants in Pakistan, which we’re cleaning,” the Pakistani minister said. “But Pakistan, we reject this thing categorically, no terrorist organization has any complete safe havens.”
On Monday, a statement by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) called for patrons of Pakistan-based militant groups to be held to account.
The groups, according to what the BRICS says, include anti-India militant factions such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, which was blamed for a 2001 attack on India’s parliament. India also accuses the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) of cross-border attacks including a 2008 assault in its financial capital Mumbai, where 166 people were killed. New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of using the militant group as a proxy to mount attacks on Indian soil. Pakistan denies involvement in the attacks, saying "non-state actors" were involved in the incidents.
Violence, including cross-border fire exchanges, has recently flared up between Indian and Pakistani troops along the disputed de facto border in Kashmir. The two sides accuse each other of provocation.
Another group the BRICS named was the Haqqani network, which is allied with the Taliban militants operating against US-led forces in Afghanistan. The network was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani and is active in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
China is also concerned about militancy spilling over from Pakistan and Afghanistan into its far-western Xinjiang region.
On August 21, US President Donald Trump denounced Islamabad for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos."
"We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond," Trump said in a major speech outlining the US policy on Afghanistan. "We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting."
“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists,” Trump said.
Successive governments in the United States have criticized Pakistan for links with the Taliban and for harboring slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Following Trump's remarks, China defended Pakistan against his criticism. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing in Beijing on August 22 that Pakistan "has made great sacrifices and contributions to fighting terrorism."
Officials in Islamabad have frequently said the US government is making Pakistan a scapegoat to cover Washington’s failure in Afghanistan, which has been gripped by insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of America's so-called war on terror in 2001.