WASHINGTON - The United States has welcomed news reports that Pakistan is planning to ban militant outfits including the Afghan Haqqani group and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, calling it an important step towards eliminating terrorist activities in the country.

“We welcome the reports that the Government of Pakistan plans to outlaw the Haqqani Network, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and I think about 10 other organisations linked to violent extremism,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, told reporters.

“If they go forward with this, it is an important step, certainly, towards eliminating terrorist activity in Pakistan,” Ms Harf said, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry had a very good visit to Pakistan where he talked to the Pakistani government about counter-terrorism efforts. “Certainly, this would be an important step going forward. We certainly believe that if this goes forward, that it would be an important step,” Ms Harf said.

“We’ve been very clear with the Pakistani government that they need to crack down and go after all terrorist groups that threaten them, threaten their people - their people are, unfortunately, the victims of more terrorist attacks than people probably anywhere else,” said the spokesperson.

Speaking about Mr Kerry’s visit, Ms Harf said, “It’s a broad relationship that goes beyond security.

I think that was a really key part of what he wanted to focus on when he was there. The banning of these terrorist groups is obviously for the government of Pakistan to decide on, but it was a very good visit.”