Sharif vows action against all militant groups

A security guard is on the alert after the attack on Bacha Khan University in Pakistan. (Mohammad Sajjad, AP)
A security guard is on the alert after the attack on Bacha Khan University in Pakistan. (Mohammad Sajjad, AP)

Islamabad - Pakistan on Sunday pledged further action to combat militants, but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif admitted progress had often been slow, speaking just days after a deadly attack by heavily armed gunmen on a university campus killed 21 people.

The assault bore a chilling resemblance to the December 2014 Peshawar school assault in which more than 150 people, mostly children, were killed, prompting the government to launch a National Action Plan (NAP) cracking down on extremism.

Sharif said on Sunday Pakistan would continue the fight against militants.

"We will fulfil this responsibility," he told reporters in London.

"In certain areas of NAP the progress is slow, but in many other areas work has been started," Sharif added.

The NAP saw the creation of military courts and the resumption of executions after a six-year moratorium, and the initiatives were credited with making 2015 the least deadly in terms of militant attacks since the formation of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani (TTP) in 2007.

The Pakistan military also intensified an ongoing campaign against extremism following the 2014 assault.

Sharif said that Pakistan and Afghanistan had an agreement that both countries would not allow militants to use their territory to launch attacks on their neighbour.

However, Pakistan officials said the university attack was orchestrated from Afghanistan and that they have arrested five Pakistani facilitators.

"Pakistan and Afghanistan are strictly following this agreement, but there are certain elements in Afghanistan who on their own are attacking Pakistan," Sharif said.

"In 2014 our school was attacked from Afghanistan. Such attacks should be stopped," Sharif said.

Twenty-one people were killed last Wednesday in an attack at a university campus in Pakistan's tribal northwest which was claimed by a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, barely a year after the massacre at a school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people.

Earlier this month Sharif assured US Secretary of State John Kerry that Pakistan was investigating the deadly attack on an Indian air force base.

Indian officials suspect the January 2 attack on the Pathankot base, which left seven soldiers dead, was carried out by the banned Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammed.

US President Barack Obama, in an interview with the Press Trust of India published on Sunday, also urged Pakistan to show it is "serious" about crushing extremist networks operating on its territory, saying the latest mass killing of students underlined the need for more decisive action.

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