Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, 19 February, assured India that action would be taken against the perpetrators of the Pulwama attack if New Delhi shares “actionable intelligence”, but warned against any retaliatory action on his country.
India claims evidence confirms Pakistan government involvement in Pulwama attack
A day after the attack, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said there is “incontrovertible evidence” about Pakistan’s “direct” involvement in the attack. The government also decided to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan and sought “immediate and verifiable action” from Islamabad against Jaish-e-Mohammad, the perpetrator behind Pathankot (January 2016), Uri (September 2016), and now Pulwama terror attacks. The decision was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence.
Forty CRPF jawans were killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama after a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist rammed an explosive-laden Scorpio SUV into a bus carrying the CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar. The attack was the worst in the history of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. Terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.
Pakistan PM’s message to India
In a video message, he stated he had wanted to respond to the attack right away because Delhi had accused Pakistan of having a hand in it, “but we had a very important visit from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, we had an investment conference happening that we had been preparing for for a long time,” he explained. “Therefore I decided not to respond then, because the attention would have been diverted away from the visit and onto this issue.”
“This is why I am responding, now that the crown prince has left. And this is for the Indian government,” he said.
“First of all, you accused Pakistan. [There was] no evidence. You never thought, ‘What would be in it for Pakistan?’,” he said. “Would a fool even do such a thing to sabotage his own conference? And even if he [the crown prince] wasn’t visiting, what benefit would Pakistan get from it?”
“Why would Pakistan at this stage, when it is moving towards stability ─ we have fought a war against terrorism for 15 years, 70,000 Pakistanis lost their lives, terrorism is receding, peace and stability are returning ─ what benefit would we get from it?” he asked.
“You want to remain stuck in the past, and each time an incident happens in Kashmir, you want to hold Pakistan responsible and ─ instead of trying to resolve the Kashmir issue, starting a dialogue or moving forward ─ make Islamabad your whipping boy again and again,” the prime minister said, addressing Delhi.
“I am telling you clearly, this is Naya Pakistan. It is a new mindset, a new way of thinking. We believe that it is in our interest that our soil is not used for carrying out terrorist attacks in other countries, nor do we want outsiders to come and carry out terror attacks here. We desire stability,” he asserted.
“Today, I would like to make the Indian government an offer. Any sort of investigation you wish carried out regarding this incident about the involvement of any Pakistani, we are ready. If you have any actionable intelligence that a Pakistani is involved, give it to us. I guarantee you we will take action ─ not because we are under pressure, but because they are acting as enemies of Pakistan.”
“If someone is using Pakistan’s soil [to carry out terror attacks elsewhere], it is enmity with us. It is against our interests.”
The prime minister added that whenever Pakistan tries to initiate dialogue with India, Delhi’s precondition is that terrorism must be talked about.
“We are ready to talk about terrorism. Terrorism is a regional issue […] we want terrorism in the region to end,” he stated. “Pakistan has been the worst affected by terrorism […] Therefore, we are ready to talk with you.”
“In India there needs to be a new way of thinking, some introspection, that what is the reason these Kashmiri youths have gotten to the point where they have no fear of death anymore? There must be some reason,” he said.
“Do you think that this one-dimensional oppression, cruelty, using military to cause issues ─ if they haven’t been successful till today, do you think they will be successful in the future?” the prime minister asked, referring to tactics used by the Indian government in occupied Kashmir.
“If today in Afghanistan, after 17 years, the entire world has accepted that there is no military solution and that the issue can only be resolved through dialogue, shouldn’t there be discussion about this in India?” he asked.
“We are hearing voices in India that ‘Pakistan must be taught a lesson’, ‘Revenge must be taken from Pakistan’, ‘There should be a strike’ ─ First of all, what law gives any country to become judge, jury and executioner?” he asked. “What sort of justice is this?”
“Secondly, you are facing an election year. And we believe that during the election, [you think] you will get a big boost if you ‘teach Pakistan a lesson’,” he said.
“If you think that if you can carry out any kind of attack on Pakistan, Pakistan will not just think about retaliating, we will retaliate. There will be no way to respond other than to retaliate,” the prime minister said.
“And after that, where does the matter go? We all know that starting a war is easy. Starting it is in people’s hands, but ending it is not in ours hands. Where it will go, God knows best. That’s why I hope that better sense will prevail.”
“This issue will only be resolved through dialogue and talks,” he concluded.