- Title: Pakistani PM says govt "committed" to seizing Islamist charities
- Date: 22nd January 2018
- Summary: ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (JANUARY 22, 2018) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF PAKISTAN'S NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (LOWER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT) BUILDING KORANIC VERSE INSCRIBED ON NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FACADE VARIOUS OF SECURITY OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT HOUSE PARLIAMENTARIAN EXITING BUILDING PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI ARRIVING FOR INTERVIEW / SHAKING HANDS WITH REUTERS REPORTERS ABBASI SITTING DOWN FOR INTERVIEW WHITE FLASH ABBASI LISTENING TO QUESTION (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER, SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI, SAYING: "Yes, the government will take over the charities which are sanctioned and not allowed to operate. As I said, it's a continuing process, and like I said, the implementation speed may have its ups and downs but we remain committed to the spirit of the sanctions." ABBASI'S HAND (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI SAYING: (ON U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S JANUARY 1 TWEET, ALLEGING PAKISTAN'S SUPPORT FOR AFGHAN TALIBAN MILITANTS) "The tweet had no new message, but it was just that the tone of the tweet was unacceptable. So I think, from our point of view, the tweet really has no formal meaning. But I think, coming from the president of the U.S., the tone or the language of the tweet is something that we cannot accept." ABBASI (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI SAYING: "We have allowed the U.S. logistics to operate freely here, to fight the war against terror. Today, if sanctions are imposed upon us, the Coalition Support Funds are not reimbursed, or our military capabilities degraded, it only degrades our capability to fight the war against terror. I think, that the U.S. needs to recognise. And the terrorists that we don't fight, the U.S. will have to fight." PAN OF ABBASI LISTENING TO QUESTION ABBASI'S HANDS (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI SAYING: "Our land routes have been used, and they continue to be used. We've had over a million aircraft -probably 1.2 million now- aircraft sorties through our territory. And there has been no billing. So, the world needs to recognise that; the U.S. needs to at least acknowledge that. That Pakistan, for the last 15 years has provided ground supplies, ground logistics and air logistics to the U.S., free of cost." ABBASI (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI SAYING: "I found him (Trump) to be fairly warm. So, somebody you would like to engage with and talk to. He came across as very - I'm very comfortable with him."
- Embargoed: 5th February 2018 22:43
- Keywords: U.S. President Donald Trump's tweet seize control of charities Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Islamist charity designated as terrorist
- Location: ISLAMABAD AND RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN
- City: ISLAMABAD AND RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN
- Country: Pakistan
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0017Z73UIV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday (January 22) said his government will push ahead with plans to seize control of charities run by an Islamist designated a terrorist by Washington, and warned the United States not to weaken Pakistan.
Abbasi brushed off U.S. President Donald Trump's recent tweet accusing Pakistan of "lies and deception" in its commitment to fighting terrorism, as he raised the prospect of charging the United States to use Pakistan's airspace to resupply NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Under pressure from the United States and international institutions to crack down on terrorist financing, Pakistan last month drew up secret plans for a "takeover" of charities linked to Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, who Washington blames for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.
The United States has labelled the charities Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) as "terrorist fronts" for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), or "Army of the Pure", a group Saeed founded in 1987 and which Washington and India accuse of carrying out the Mumbai attacks.
Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and says the charitable organisations he founded and controls have no ties with militants.
But both he and the organisations have been sanctioned by the United Nations and his freedom in Pakistan, where he holds public rallies, has been a thorn in Islamabad's relations with India and the United States.
"Yes, the government will take over the charities which are sanctioned and not allowed to operate," Abbasi, 59, told Reuters in an interview at the prime minister's chamber in Pakistan's Parliament in capital Islamabad.
He declined to set a deadline.
There are concerns in Pakistan that the country may face financial sanctions over accusations of selective action against Islamist militant groups and financing.
Pakistan is a base for myriad Islamist movements, and critics accuse Islamabad of only targeting militants who attack the state while leaving unscathed those who target neighbouring Afghanistan and arch-foe India. Pakistan denies those allegations.
Relations between the United States and its uneasy ally have frayed since Jan. 1, when Trump lashed out against what he called Pakistan's "lies and deceit" over its alleged support of Afghan Taliban militants battling U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Washington has since suspended aid totalling about $2 billion.
Abbasi said Trump's tweet was "unacceptable" in its tone and that Pakistan should not be "scapegoated" for U.S. failures in Afghanistan.
"That is something ... we cannot accept because nobody's suffered more than Pakistan," Abbasi said, adding that tens of thousands of Pakistani have died from militancy that has inflicted damage worth $120 billion to the economy.
U.S. officials last year warned of tougher measures against Pakistan, including potentially withdrawing its "non-NATO ally" status or even designating it a state sponsor of terrorism.
Abbasi said much of the suspended aid was from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a U.S. Defence Department programme to reimburse allies for the costs of supporting counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations.
He said the U.S. needed to respect Pakistan's contribution to the fight against Islamist militancy and raised the prospect of charging Washington for air transport flights that have been resupplying U.S.-led troops and Afghan forces in landlocked Afghanistan.
And he also spoke fondly about a brief discussion he had with Trump in September at a reception at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
"I found him to be fairly warm," he said. "Somebody that you would like to engage with and talk to."
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