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‘New Pakistan’ must show new action, says India

The external affairs ministry spokesman said on Saturday that Islamabad must take “verifiable” steps to dismantle terrorist infrastructure on the ground.

India said on Saturday that its air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist camp deep inside Pakistan last month had achieved its objective, and reiterated a call for Pakistan to take “credible, verifiable and sustained actions” against terror groups operating from its soil.

The external affairs ministry questioned the seriousness of a crackdown underway on banned organisations in the neighbouring country. It dismissed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks that his Indian counterpart was engaging in politics of hatred with an eye on elections, saying the comments were meant to divert attention from the pressure on Islamabad to quell terrorism.

Amid a relative easing of tensions following India’s February 26 hit on a JeM facility at Balakot in Pakistan and an aerial engagement over the Line of Control a day later, external affairs ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the air strike had met its objective. “Our non-military counter terrorism strike of February 26 achieved the intended objective. It demonstrated our firm resolve to take decisive action against cross-border terrorism,” the spokesman said.

Pakistan has questioned what it has called India’s “fictitious” claim that its air force had bombed a large JeM facility in Balakot. Domestically, some Indian political parties, including the Congress, have sought information on the damage done to the terror camp and the number of casualties the JeM suffered.

This has prompted criticism by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party that they were toeing Islamabad’s line.

The bombing, following the September 2016 surgical strikes that followed the death of 19 soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, has demonstrated that India would no longer hesitate to strike back against cross-border terrorism, analysts have said. The air strike was prompted by the February 14 suicide car bombing in Pulwama that left 40 Indian paramilitary troopers dead. 

The external affairs ministry spokesman said on Saturday that Islamabad must take “verifiable” steps to dismantle terrorist infrastructure on the ground.

“If Pakistan claims to be a Naya (new) Pakistan with nayi soch (new thinking), it should show naya action against terrorist groups and terror infrastructure on its soil and end cross-border terrorism in support of its claims,” Kumar told a regular news briefing.

India, he added, is “resolute in our determination to persuade the international community of the necessity of compelling Pakistan to move beyond mere words and to show credible, verifiable and sustained actions” against terror. India’s armed forces are maintaining strict vigil and are determined to defend the country, though India will continue to act with “responsibility and maturity”, he said. 

Asked about Khan’s remarks on Sunday accusing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of engaging in politics of hatred and about the targeting of minorities following the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama, Kumar replied: “The Pakistani prime minister has a penchant of issuing statements on internal affairs of India, and this is part of the Pakistani narrative to deflect attention and take the focus elsewhere, especially when they come under pressure on counter-terrorism.”

The world community has stood with India in condemning the Pulwama attack, which was claimed by JeM, and in asking Pakistan to act against terrorist infrastructure in territories under its control. However, Pakistan continues to deny JeM’s claim of the attack and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said the banned group had not claimed responsibility. “Is Pakistan defending the JeM and acting as its spokesperson?” Kumar said.

Pakistan has claimed to have taken fresh action against terror groups, such as banning some organisations and placing some individuals in “preventive detention”, but Kumar said: “We are seeing the same script that has been played out earlier after the terrorist attacks on our Parliament in December 2001, the Mumbai terrorist attack in November 2008 and the attack on Pathankot airbase in January 2016. Pakistan claims to proscribe groups and individuals, but this is confined only on paper.”

Kumar said talks to be held between the two sides on March 14 on the Kartarpur corridor are “not in any way a resumption of bilateral dialogue”. The corridor is related to the sentiments of Indian Sikhs and the decision to hold the talks reflects India’s strong commitment to operationalise the corridor for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.

Source: hindustantimes.com

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