Army chief General Raheel Sharif has urged the British government to take action against the banned outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) and Baloch separatist leaders who are stirring trouble in Pakistan. He raised the issue with British authorities during his visit to London on Wednesday.
On the first day of his three-day official trip, the army chief visited 10 Downing Street and met British Prime Minister David Cameron. He also held talks with British Secretary of Defence Michael Fallen and other senior officials.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, who is travelling with the army chief, confirmed that Gen Raheel called for action against proscribed organisations and anti-Pakistan elements operating from outside the country. The army chief also called for measures to choke the financing of these groups, the chief military spokesman said.
A senior security official, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Express Tribune that the army chief specifically took up the issue of HuT, which has a strong presence in the UK.
Over the past few years, HuT, which is banned in Pakistan, has infiltrated the military significantly. In 2012, at least four military officers, including a brigadier, were convicted for having links with the banned Hizbut Tahrir. Pakistan believes that despite being a proscribed organisation, the group is getting funding from other countries including the UK.
This was the first time that any top Pakistani official took up the issue with British authorities calling for tough action against HuT, which seeks a pan-Islamic state or caliphate. The organisation is also proscribed in many countries apart from Pakistan.
The official also disclosed that Gen Raheel asked British authorities to take action against the Baloch separatist leaders who were operating from London and working against Pakistan’s interest. Hyrbyair Marri, the head of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), is currently residing in the UK and often issues statements about the unrest in Baluchistan.
The BLA is one of several separatist groups involved in a deadly insurgency in Balochistan since 2004. The BLA has claimed responsibility for a number of gun and bomb attacks on security forces, government installations and innocent civilians, especially those settled in Balochistan from other provinces.
The official pointed out that fighting terrorism was not the responsibility of Pakistan alone but also of other countries. He said Pakistan had already shown its willingness to take action against all terrorist groups without any discrimination.
According to the ISPR, the army chief during his meeting with British authorities also discussed the current regional security situation, including Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2015.