Aus says Pak can no longer allow legal & physical space to extremists to operate from its soil
Melbourne, Feb 26: Australia on Tuesday asked Pakistan to take "urgent and meaningful" action against “terrorist groups” including JeM and said it can no longer allow extremist groups the legal and physical space to operate from its territory.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne's statement came hours after Indian fighter jets struck Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)'s biggest camp in Pakistan in a pre-dawn attack.
She also urged India and Pakistan to "exercise restraint" and engage in dialogue to ensure issues are resolved peacefully.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) bombed militant camps at multiple locations across the Line of Control (LoC) on the Pakistani side in a pre-dawn strike, 12 days after the Pakistan-based militant group JeM carried out the Pulwama attack in Kashmir.
The Australian government is concerned about the relations between India and Pakistan, Payne said.
"Pakistan must take urgent and meaningful action against terrorist groups in its territory, including Jaish-e-Mohammed which has claimed responsibility for the 14 February bombing, and Lashkar-e-Taiba," she said.
The minister said that Pakistan must do everything possible to implement its own proscription of JeM.
"It (Pakistan) can no longer allow extremist groups the legal and physical space to operate from its territory," the minister said.
She also took note of the reports that India has stated it has now conducted operations targeting terrorist groups based in Pakistan.
"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.
"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," Payne said.
These steps would make a substantial contribution to easing tensions and resolving the underlying causes of conflict, she added.
There is heightened tension between India and Pakistan, the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals after the February 14 suicide attack by JeM that killed at least 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district.
India launched a major diplomatic offensive against Islamabad after the attack and highlighted Pakistan's role in “using terrorism as an instrument of state policy”.
India asked Pakistan to take immediate and verifiable action against “terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control”.
New Delhi also announced the withdrawal of the Most Favoured Nation status for Pakistan and hiked the customs duty by 200 per cent on goods originating from Pakistan.