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Australia asks Pak to take 'urgent and meaningful' action against terror groups


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In the backdrop of aerial strikes carried out by India at a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan, Australia on Tuesday in a strongly worded statement demanded that Pakistan take "urgent and meaningful action" against terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, including Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT).
Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that "Pakistan should take urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory, including JeM which has claimed responsibility for the February 14 bombing, and Lashkar-e-Taiba."
"Pakistan must do everything possible to implement its own proscription of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). It can no longer allow extremist groups the legal and physical space to operate from its territory," Payne said in a statement.
"These steps would make a substantial contribution to easing tensions and resolving the underlying causes of conflict," the Australian foreign minister Payne said.
Expressing concerns over the tensions between India and Pakistan after the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama, Payne said, "The Australian government is concerned about relations between India and Pakistan following the horrific terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir on 14 February, which Australia has condemned."
"Australia urges both sides to exercise restraint, avoid any action which would endanger peace and security in the region and engage in dialogue to ensure that these issues are resolved peacefully," she underlined.
Earlier today, India carried out airstrikes in Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, destroying a major camp of JeM and eliminating a "large number" of terrorists, including top commanders, of the terror group which attacked a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14.
In the swift operation, launched at around 3.30 am and completed within minutes, 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets belonging to the IAF pounded the training centre, housing around 300 terrorists, in Balakot area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with six bombs while SU-30 combat aircraft maintained air superiority to ward off any retaliation by the Pakistan Air Force, sources said.
The camp, located in a forest area atop a hill, was headed by JeM chief Masood Azhar's brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Gauri, who was involved in the 1999 hijack of Indian Airlines plane IC-814 and was on Interpol lookout notice since 2000.
The casualty figure of the terrorists is very high as the JeM had shifted its entire cadre to this camp from the launching pads along the Line of Control (LoC), fearing surgical strike-type response from India in the aftermath of Pulwama attack, sources said about first such action by India.
A large number of JeM terrorists, including top commanders, trainers and those terrorists who were to be the 'fidayeen' (suicide attackers) were eliminated in the "non-military" air strike, India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the media while officially disclosing information about the air strike, hours after the action.
Gokhale said the "pre-emptive" strike by India had become absolutely necessary as there was credible information that JeM was planning further attacks in this country.

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First Published: Feb 26 2019 | 8:57 PM IST

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