Islamabad apprises envoys of Pakistan’s stance on Pulwama attack, Delhi’s ‘knee-jerk’ reaction
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on Sunday briefed envoys from African and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states on Islamabad’s position regarding the recent deadly attack targeting Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area, and New Delhi’s “knee-jerk” reaction of blaming Pakistan and threatening it.
On Thursday, at least 44 Indian paramilitary troops were killed in Indian-occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area in the deadliest attack on security forces in the valley since 2002. The attack, surpassing one in 2016 when 19 soldiers died, saw explosives packed inside a van rip through buses in a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying some 2,500 members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Indian media reports claimed that Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) had claimed responsibility for the attack. The attacker was identified as a Kashmiri youth named Aadil Ahmad Dar who had used more than 750 pounds of explosives to target the military convoy.
Indian military commander Lt Gen DS Hooda, who had led the Indian army’s Northern Command during a similar crisis in September 2016, said it is not possible to bring such a massive amount of explosives into the area “by infiltrating the border”. He told the New York Times on Saturday that “the material may have been taken from stashes of explosives” being used to broaden the Jammu highway where the attack occurred.
Shortly after the attack, Islamabad had strongly condemned the violence and rejected any insinuation that sought to link it to Pakistan without investigation.
On Friday, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley alleged there was “incontrovertible evidence” of Pakistan “having a direct hand in this gruesome terrorist incident” hours before a team of investigators from India’s National Investigation Agency had reached the site of the attack. He also vowed that all measures would be taken to ensure Pakistan’s complete diplomatic isolation.
Shortly after, India took several punitive economic measures, including the withdrawal of ‘Most Favoured Nation’ trade status and raising customs duty on all imports from Pakistan to 200 per cent, which is expected to affect the $2 billion bilateral trade. India has also decided to increase pressure on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to get Pakistan blacklisted over alleged links with the JeM.
‘A familiar pattern of blame’
Janjua, in today’s interaction with envoys belonging to SCO states, “recalled a familiar pattern of India blaming Pakistan instantly after such incidents without any investigation”, the Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal tweeted.
The foreign secretary also briefed resident ambassadors from African states. The Foreign Office tweeted that a “deliberate anti-Pakistan frenzy is being spurred in India”.
“Baseless Indian allegations and aggressive rhetoric are counterproductive and a threat to regional peace,” Dr Faisal warned.A day earlier, the foreign secretary had taken envoys from the European Union and non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, on board to clear Islamabad’s position over the Indian campaign against it.
Briefing by FS to resident Ambassadors regarding #PulwamaAttack continue at MOFA. #African Ambassadors briefed today. Deliberate anti-Pakistan frenzy being spurred in India. Baseless Indian allegations & aggressive rhetoric counterproductive&threat to regional peace. pic.twitter.com/yQTuikfEZf
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) February 17, 2019
Pakistan on Saturday warned the international community that India could resort to military adventurism in the aftermath of the attack and asked Delhi to investigate the tragedy before passing on the blame and share “actionable evidence” so that the matter could be pursued.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar, however, has rejected Pakistani calls for a probe into the attack before blaming Pakistan, saying: “The demand for an investigation is preposterous when there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the Jaish-e-Muhammad. There are also other audio-visual and print materials linking JeM to the terrorist attack. We have, therefore, no doubt that the claim is firmly established.”
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in an interview yesterday said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had two options: either to exploit the situation to his own advantage in view of the upcoming general elections or to act like a statesman who has vision for the betterment of his country and the region.
“One is to act like a typical politician and stage his reactions and policy while keeping an eye on the next election. Alternatively, he has the option of being a statesman who thinks about his region, his country’s poverty, the betterment of his country, as well as regional betterment,” he said.