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Sartaj Aziz statement on militant groups taken out of context: FO

Updated November 18, 2014

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Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam. — Photo: Press Information Department
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam. — Photo: Press Information Department

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday clarified that a statement made by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz was reported out of context.

“The advisor made the statement in a historical context,“ FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said in a statement.

A day earlier, Aziz told BBC Urdu in an interview that Pakistan was not going to target militant groups that do not “pose a threat to the state“ — a statement that received harsh criticism by political rivals and on social media. The country's premier spy agency has long been accused of harbouring the “good“ and “bad“ Taliban narrative.

Read: The 'two' Taliban

“As for [the] present, Pakistan has launched operation Zarb-i-Azb and taking action against all groups without any distinction or discrimination,” Tasneem Aslam, foreign office spokesperson, said in a statement.

She added that Sartaj Aziz's interview with BBC's Urdu service has created confusion in the official stance of the country. Pakistan’s policy and actions should be seen in the light of its commitment in fighting terrorism in all forms and manifestations, she added.

Read: Militants not dangerous to Pakistan should not be targeted, says Sartaj

Aziz had said that Pakistan should not target militants who do not threaten the country’s security. “Why should America’s enemies unnecessarily become our enemies,” he said.

“When the United States attacked Afghanistan, all those that were trained and armed were pushed towards us,” the adviser had said, adding that some of the militants were dangerous for Pakistan and some were not. “Why must we make enemies out of them all?” he added.

Aziz went on to say that Afghan Taliban were Afghanistan’s problem and that Haqqani Network was a part of it.

The development comes at a time when Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif was on a visit to the US and operation Zarb-i-Azb commander Major General Zafarullah Khan had recently stated that the military was targetting all local and foreign militants.