Pakistan vows again to act against militants on its soil as global pressure grows

Pakistan vows again to act against militants on its soil as global pressure grows

ISLAMABAD (Reuters – Pakistan plans to take action against militant groups operating on its soil, a minister said on Monday, amid global pressure to act after a suicide bomber killed 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir last month.

But Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry denied Indian accusations that Pakistan was involved in the February 14 attack, which led to a sharp rise in hostilities, saying it “had nothing to do with us”.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan and India both carried out aerial bombing missions last week and on Wednesday fought a brief dogfight in the skies over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, but they stepped back from the brink after Islamabad on Friday handed back a captured Indian pilot as a peace gesture.

Britain and the United States welcomed the pilot’s return but urged Islamabad to take action against militant groups carrying out attacks on Indian soil. Islamabad denies assisting the groups or using them as proxies in its rivalry with India.

Previous vows by the Pakistan government to crack down on anti-India militant groups have largely come to nothing, with militant leaders living freely in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s powerful military dictates the South Asian nation’s security plans and foreign policy, including relations with India.

Chaudhry said the decision to act was taken at a meeting of the National Security Committee before the suicide bombing, claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM, in Kashmir.

“A full-fledged strategy is now in place,” Chaudhry said. “We have different strategies for different groups, but the main aim is that we have to enforce the writ of the state. We have to demilitarise if there are groups (on our soil.”

Pakistan’s English-language Dawn newspaper said a source briefed journalists that a crackdown against militant groups was imminent.

“The action would soon be visible as things progress,” Dawn cited the source as saying. It did not identify the source or say whether it was from the military or government.

In September 2017, it was reported that Pakistan’s military had decided to deradicalise armed militant groups and try to