Friday, Aug 12, 2022

No Terror Groups Will Be Allowed To Operate On Pakistani Soil: Imran Khan

The February 14 attack claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel and led to tension between the nuclear-armed rivals as India conducted airstrikes in Pakistan's Balakot region.

AP Photos

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that no terror group would be allowed to operate on Pakistani soil and carry out attacks abroad, days after his government began a crackdown against terror organisations.

"This government will not allow Pakistan's land to be used for any kind of outside terrorism," Imran Khan said while addressing a public rally in southern Pakistan.

"We will not allow any terror group to function in our country now," he added.

Khan, who took over in August last year, blamed the previous governments for the flourishing of terror and extremist groups in the country, saying none had taken any action against the banned individuals and outfits.

However, after the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took over, the National Action Plan (NAP) for countering terrorism and extremism was taken seriously, he said while addressing a public meeting in Tharparkar district of Sindh.

Khan's comments came amid tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad after the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the February 14 Kashmir's Pulwama terror attack, that killed 40 CRPF troopers.

The Kashmir bombing resulted in mounting pressure from the international community on Islamabad to act on terrorist groups based on its soil.

Earlier, Pakistan had launched a crackdown against all the terror groups and had arrested the brother and son of JeM Masood Azhar along with 42 others affiliated with the banned terror groups.

Khan also said that Pakistan wants peace with India but will retaliate in case of any aggression by the neighbouring country.

"We want peace and not war. But no one should remain mistaken. Pakistan is awake. Any aggression or misadventure by India will receive a befitting reply. We are ready to fight till our last breath," the Prime Minister added.

"Agar aapko lagta hai ki Pakistanio ka khun karke aap election jeetenge to aisi galat faimy mei mat rehna. Aap kuch bhi karoge uspe jawabi karwayei hogi (if you think that you will win elections by killing Pakistanis, you should not be in that mistaken notion. If you do anything, there will be an answer to it)," he said.

Khan also spoke about the security of the minorities in Pakistan and said that his country stood with them unlike India where "the minorities were being targeted".

He said his government stood with the people of the Hindu community, a minority in Pakistan, and would not tolerate any injustice against them.

"In this Pakistan, it is our responsibility to ensure that minorities are equal citizens and will not be discriminated against."

India, in retaliation to the Kashmir bombing, had bombed the JeM's biggest training camp in Balakot, Pakistan, on February 26. The next day, Islamabad captured an Indian Air Force pilot after a dogfight between the two air forces. He was released on March 1 as a "peace gesture" by Pakistan.

Reiterating that his country wanted peace, Khan said: "We returned the pilot because we don't want war. We decided that if you (India) have casualties in Pulwama, we are willing to provide help. However, no one should mistake this for fear."

He added that the main focus of his government was to eliminate poverty.

"When I spoke to Modi after becoming Prime Minister, I said South Asia has the highest rate of poverty and we should resolve issues through dialogue. But I did not know that as soon as their election campaign began, their focus shifted to gain votes by spreading hatred," he said.

(With inputs from agencies)