22 terrorist training camps active in Pakistan: Indian official

Washington | As many as 22 terrorist training camps, including nine of Jaish-e-Mohammed are active in Pakistan, but no action is being taken against them, a senior Indian official said here on Thursday, warning that New Delhi will carry out operation similar to that of the Balakot airstrike if there is an act of terrorism coming from across the border.

In a pinpointed and swift air strike that lasted less than two minutes, India pounded JeM’s biggest training camp in Pakistan on February 26, killing up to 350 terrorists and trainers who were moved there for their protection after the February 14 attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in which 40 soldiers were killed. The JeM claimed responsibility for the Pulwama strike.

Pakistan is a “global epicentre of terrorism and it needs to take verifiable and credible steps against terrorist organisations and terrorists”, said the official on condition of anonymity.

The official also accused Pakistan and its leadership of being in denial mode and trying to create a war hysteria kind of situation between the two nuclear-weapon states. “As many as 22 terrorist training camps, including nine of JeM are still being run in Pakistan and there has been no action against them,” the official said.

The Balakot airstrike conducted by India was a counter-terrorism operation, which was well within the international laws. However, a day after on February 27, Pakistan attacked Indian military installation with as many as 20 fighter jets, the official claimed.

“Instead of taking action against terrorist groups, Pakistan escalated the situation and indulged in war hysteria by doing things like declaring emergency in Karachi, blocking air traffic and creating rumours, which is part of its familiar pattern,” the official said, adding, “India on the other hand exercised restraint.”

Islamabad now bears the responsibility to end terrorism, the official said and warned that “India will carry out retaliatory counter-terrorism operation like the one on February 26, deep inside Pakistan, anytime there is an act of terrorism coming from across the border”.

Referring to the recent actions taken by Pakistan against several terrorist groups, the official said that these actions are “nothing unusual” as the country takes such steps after every terrorist strike in India.

“These actions”, the official described, “are a revolving door policy, under which house arrest of terrorist leaders simply means keeping them in luxurious accommodation”. They are released once the situation becomes normal, the official said.

But after the Pulwama attack, India has set “a new normal”. “For every terrorist attack coming from across the border, India will retaliate and there will be a price that the neighbouring country would have to pay.”

Accusing Pakistan of being a state sponsor of terrorism, the official said there is a feeling in India that Islamabad is unlikely to stop funding terror activities “unless the cost of it is too heavy for it to pay”.

Asserting that India has the right to self-defence, the official told reporters that New Delhi by successfully carrying out strikes inside Pakistan “has been able to call the Pakistani bluff” on the nuclear front. “This will not work in the future,” the official said and warned Pakistan that “there will be reprisal” for every act of terrorism.

Responding to a question, the official said India has given to the US details of the violation of the end user agreement by Pakistan when it used F-16 fighter jets and advanced missiles against India on February 27. India, the official said, is very closely engaged with the US and has support of the Trump administration.

The official also said India is opposed to any IMF bailout packages to Pakistan. Pakistan has received as many as 21 bailout packages, including seven in the recent past, from the IMF. However, none of them have been able to address the economic woes of Pakistan because the money intended to improve the economy and developmental purposes have been diverted for non-civilian means.

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