–PM asks India to share ‘actionable evidence’ instead of making baseless allegations
–Warns it against aggression, says Pakistan will immediately retaliate if provoked
–Says it’s not in Pakistan’s interest ‘to plant terrorists elsewhere or to have terror havens on its soil’
–Islamabad is ready to hold anti-terror talks with New Delhi
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday sought to knock some sense into the frenzied Indian government, urging it to share “actionable evidence” regarding the Pulwama attack, instead of levelling baseless accusations against Pakistan.
In a recorded address on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran offered full cooperation, saying: “If you have any actionable intelligence that a Pakistani is involved, give it to us. I guarantee you that we will take action ─ not because we are under pressure, but because they [culprits] are acting as enemies of Pakistan.”
Imran said that he had not responded to India’s accusations earlier because he did not want to draw attention from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s maiden visit to Pakistan.
“Why would we want to sabotage things by planning such an attack when the crown prince was visiting? And even if the crown prince was not visiting, what benefit would we get out of it?” he questioned.
He added that it is not in Pakistan’s interests to plant terrorists elsewhere or to have terrorist activity conducted on its soil: Pakistan is moving towards stability and desires it. We have fought terrorism for 15 years, and 70,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in [the war on terror].”
The prime minister said there’s a new mindset in ‘Naya Pakistan’ and the incumbent government believes that “it is in [Pakistan’s] 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”.
Addressing India’s government and media caught up in a war frenzy, Imran said: “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? What sort of justice is this?”
Warning India of a befitting response, he said, “We all know that starting a war is easy. Starting it is in people’s hands, but ending it is not in our hands. Where it will go, God knows best. That’s why I hope that better sense will prevail.”
India needs to do retrospection in Kashmir, he said, adding Kashmiri youths seem to have reached a point where they are no longer afraid of death.
Further, the premier spoke of the tactics of Indian forces in Kashmir and asked if India thinks that “this one-dimensional oppression and use of military forces to cause conflict will be successful in the future when it has failed today”.
“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 added.
Wondering whether India wanted to remain in the past and not establish peace between the two countries, he said every time an incident happens in Kashmir, India puts the blame on Pakistan.
Offering India to come to the table, Imran said Pakistan is ready to initiate talks on terror outfits in the region as well — precondition put forth by India in every bilateral dialogue.
Relations between Pakistan and India have touched a new low after over 40 paramilitary personnel were killed in Kashmir’s Pulwama district by a suicide bomber.
The car bomb attack considered the worst ever on security personnel in the state, was reportedly claimed by militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and carried out by a 20-year-old Kashmiri man.
India held Pakistan responsible for the bombing soon after the attack and withdrew its ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status. Pakistan denies all the charges.
“We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian media and government that seek to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement on Thursday.