Dec 212017

WASHINGTON: The United States could add Milli Muslim League and some other Pakistan-based groups to a list of organisations that use terrorism to promote their agenda, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The Indian media reported earlier on Thursday that the Donald Trump administration had accepted India’s request to label more Pakistani militant groups as globally designated terrorists. The request was made at the first India-US conference on designation of terror masterminds and organisations held in New Delhi on Dec 18-19.

When Dawn contacted the State Department for comment on the reports that the United States could add more Pakistan-based groups to its list of terrorist outfits, an official said: “While Pakistan is an important partner for achieving US priorities in the region, this administration has also set clear expectations for Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist and militant groups that operate from Pakistani soil.”

The official did not identify the groups that Washington wanted Pakistan to go after, but diplomatic observers in the US capital see it against the backdrop of a recent statement criticising Islamabad for allowing Hafiz Saeed to continue his political activities.

On Tuesday, State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert reminded Pakistan that Hafiz Saeed was a US-designated terrorist with a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest and if he ran for election in 2018, it would certainly be a cause of concern for Washington.

Official sources in Washington had also expressed similar concerns after the Lahore by-election earlier this year, in which Hafiz Saeed’s group backed a new party called Milli Muslim League. The group received more votes than both the Pakistan Peoples Party and Jamaat-i-Islami combined.

Recent media reports suggest that Hafiz Saeed may also participate in the 2018 general elections.

Commenting on the possibility of more US terrorist designations, diplomatic observers also referred to the First US-India Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue, which underlined their commitment to “pursuing designations against terrorist groups and individuals through domestic and international mechanisms”.

The US and Indian delegations also “discussed best practices for effective implementation of the designations,” said a statement released by the State Department in Washington.

The United States will host the second US-India Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue in 2018.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2017

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