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BRICS: Militant Groups Pose a Threat to Regional Security

Leaders of BRICS, an acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa combined, on Monday expressed concerns over Pakistan-based militant groups and cited them as a problem for regional security.

The economic bloc called for the supporters of these groups to be held accountable.

The call for action comes two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump put Pakistan on notice to stop harboring Afghan militant groups that use Pakistani soil to plan and launch attacks against Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

BRICS members condemned terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and called for an “immediate cessation of violence” in the country.

“We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates, including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir,” read a joint declaration issued by the economic bloc during its annual summit in China’s Xiamen.

“We reaffirm that those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable,” the declaration added.

While the BRICS statement has not named Islamabad directly, many of the groups cited in the declaration find safe haven in the country.

FILE - A man looks at graffiti supporting the Islamic State group as he walks past an entrance of a compound in Karachi, Pakistan, Nov. 12, 2014. Pakistani officials deny that IS has a foothold in the country.
FILE – A man looks at graffiti supporting the Islamic State group as he walks past an entrance of a compound in Karachi, Pakistan, Nov. 12, 2014.

Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye to the issue of safe havens for Afghan militant groups.

Trump last month blamed Pakistan for “housing” terrorist groups that are fighting Afghan and American forces in Afghanistan. He vowed not to be “silent about Pakistan’s safe havens” for the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.

New Delhi also has accused Pakistan-based religious groups of supporting militancy in Indian Kashmir.

Analysts say the new charges put additional pressure on Pakistan for its alleged support of regional militant groups that are fighting in Afghanistan and Indian Kashmir.

“The BRICS summit’s decision that Laskar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are a threat to the region will certainly have an impact on Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts,” Rasul Baksh Raees, a political analyst in Pakistan, told VOA.

Possible change in China’s stance

Experts believe the BRICS statement also indicates a change in China’s traditional stance toward militant groups in the region.

“This has now become a necessity, as China and Russia are looking into the matter very seriously and it’s becoming evident that China might not support Pakistan the way it has done in the past,” Pakistani analyst Raza Rumi told VOA.

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, believes the BRICS statement is a serious development.

“This is a big deal because China has agreed to single out, on the global stage, terror groups that it typically blocks from getting sanctioned on the global stage,” Kugelman said.

He believes China has economic interests in the region and “needs stability in Pakistan as it builds out its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor [CPEC] in that country.”

“In fact, Beijing has a strong interest in Pakistan cracking down on all terror groups, not just some,” Kugelman underscored.

This story was jointly written by Madeeha Anwar and Noor Zahid and originally posted on VOA News (Extremism Watch Desk).

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