The United States has appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to curb militancy but reminded Islamabad that it must do more to prevent militants from operating within its borders.
The statement from Alice Wells, the acting assistant secretary of the US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, came via Twitter early on Sunday morning.
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She said Washington welcomes Pakistan’s recent arrest of four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leaders and wants them and LeT leader Hafiz Saeed to face prosecution for their “vicious attacks”.
We welcome news that Pakistan arrested 4 #LeT leaders. The victims of LeT’s vicious attacks deserve to see these individuals prosecuted now, along with LeT leader Hafiz Saeed.— State_SCA (@State_SCA) October 12, 2019
Wells added that Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to pursue action against all militant groups and that “Pakistan, for its own future, must prevent militant groups from operating on its soil.”
The reminder from Washington comes on the heels of Thursday’s arrest of four aides of Hafiz Saeed on terrorism financing charges.
Saeed, arrested on the same charges, has been on judicial remand since July, a move previously welcomed by US President Donald Trump who wants Pakistan to do more to crack down on militancy.
The recent arrests come ahead of a meeting next week of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog, which will review progress made by Pakistan on controlling terror financing and money laundering.
Pakistan, included on a so-called grey list compiled by the FATF, has been under increasing pressure to stop the financing of militant groups.
The recently released final Mutual Evaluation Report of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) says Pakistan faces high risks of money laundering and terror financing and it needs to improve the understanding of these risks that are also emanating from various terrorist groups operating in the country.
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The APG on Money Laundering released its report 10 days before the Financial Action Task Force’s plenary meeting, which is going to give its decision on Pakistan’s status on its grey list.
After the APG report, chances are high that Pakistan would be retained on the grey list during the FATF plenary meetings from October 13 to 18 in Paris.
(With additional input from Reuters)