India asks nuclear rival Pakistan for crackdown on terror groups as tensions ease

Tensions flared between the nuclear rivals after a suicide attack on a convoy of Indian paramilitary soldiers in the Indian-held Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers.

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By Associated Press

NEW DELHI — India on Saturday demanded that Pakistan take concrete steps against terrorists operating from its territory, while at the same time returning its top diplomat to Islamabad amid an easing of tensions between the nuclear rivals.

Pakistan announced earlier this week that its high commissioner to India was returning to New Delhi, weeks after the two countries recalled their top diplomats for consultations as tensions flared after a suicide attack on a convoy of Indian paramilitary soldiers in the Indian-held Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers.

India blamed that attack on a Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and launched a retaliatory airstrike inside Pakistan.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Saturday that a reported Pakistani crackdown this week on seminaries, mosques and hospitals belonging to outlawed groups and arrest of dozens of people was not enough.

He said Pakistan should take concrete steps "against terrorists and terror infrastructure" on its territory.

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Kumar said a recent United Nations statement also called for "perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism to be held accountable and brought to justice."

He accused Pakistan of failing to take any credible action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terrorist organizations, which he said continued to operate with impunity from Pakistan.

"The widespread presence of terrorist camps in Pakistan is a public knowledge within and outside Pakistan," he said.

Pakistan says it has arrested 44 people, including the brother of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar who was apparently named in a dossier given to Islamabad by New Delhi. It also says shut a number of facilities and frozen assets of several outlawed organizations.

Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Saturday that his country was acting against the banned militant outfits and it would not allow anyone to "use the Pakistani land for terrorism against any country."

He also said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had asked India to send evidence it has against anybody.

"India hasn't shared yet any actionable information and proof against anybody," he added.

Chaudhry also said Khan has invited India to take part in a joint investigation and negotiations, but there had been no response from the Indian side.

New Delhi's retaliatory strike in the northwest Pakistan town of Balakot last month sent tensions spiraling.

India said its air force hit a terrorist training camp and killed "a very large number" of militants. Pakistan said the strike only damaged three trees in a forest.

Islamabad responded by shooting down two Indian warplanes and capturing a pilot, who was later returned to India as a peace gesture. India said it lost only one aircraft.

Since then, the two sides have exercised restraint amid calls from the international community to avoid war.