Terror groups operating from Pak; 'non-reversible' action needed: UK

New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) Pakistan needs to do more and take 'non-reversible' action against terrorism to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the UK said on Thursday, asserting that terror groups operating within that country pose a threat to the stability of South Asia.

Gareth Bayley, the UK's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said 'all options are on the table' for the next stage in FATF on Pakistan on the basis of evidence submitted by it.

'It is absolutely clear that terrorist groups are operating from within Pakistan. They pose a serious challenge to the government of Pakistan and to South Asia's regional stability. Absolutely clear,' Bayley said at a session of the Raisina Dailogue here.

He said the only way forward was to engage with the country at all levels to deal with the issue.

Responding to the charges that the UK is soft on Pakistan, he said it was just a 'simple matter of necessity' as it was necessary to be engaged with countries across South Asia.

Talking about the FATF, he said the UK is actually the penholder within the FATF on Pakistan and it sifts over evidence given by the country to the task force.

The FATF is impartial and objective, and a technical body that scrutinises evidence that is put to it, he said.

'So far, definitely there has been some progress that has been made (by Pakistan). There is so much more progress that needs to be made. We say to Pakistan at various highest levels and they agree with us that a step change is required,' Bayley said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa have made very clear commitments and those commitments can be seen as a public record, he said.

'We can decide whether or not Pakistan has met those commitments,' Bayley said.

'We know all options are on the table on the basis of evidence submitted to the FATF....What is important is that the Pakistanis too recognise that they need to keep moving in a sustainable, significant, and non-reversible direction,' he said.

FATF, the Paris-based international terror financing watchdog which kept Pakistan on the 'Grey List' for an extended period till February 2020, had warned in October that Islamabad would be put on the 'Black List' if it did not comply with the remaining 22 points in a list of 27.

Pakistan has submitted a report comprising answers to 22 questions to the FATF.

Bayley also said that the UK has a really deep counter-terrorism dialogue with India.

'Britain has foiled 19 major terror attacks on its soil. We can share our experience with India just as India has a lot of experience to share,' he said.

The British diplomat said Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to take bilateral ties with India to a new level and deepen the relationship.

Besides Bayley, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Mobi Group CEO Saad Mohseni and Erin Saltman, Head of Counter Terrorism Policy (Europe, Middle East & Africa), Facebook, also took part in the panel discussion. PTI ASK ASK ANB ANB

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