Breaking his silence on the Pulwama terror attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned India that Islamabad would retaliate if Delhi decided to take punitive military action against it.
In a televised address, Mr. Khan said, “If you think that you will launch any kind of attack on Pakistan, Pakistan will not just think about retaliation, Pakistan will retaliate.”
Speaking five days after the car-bomb strike carried out by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist outfit, he said, “There will be no other option [for Pakistan] but to retaliate.”
Using a mix of Urdu and English, he said, “We all know that it’s in a person’s hands to begin a war, but it’s not in his hands to end a war. Where this will go, God knows better. That’s why I hope better sense will prevail.”
Claiming that India had presented “no evidence” of Pakistani involvement in the Pulwama attack, Mr. Khan wanted to know what advantage would accrue to Pakistan when the country itself was a “victim” of terrorism.
He felt that India was “again and again” making Pakistan the “whipping boy” instead of starting a dialogue with Islamabad. He said it was not in Pakistan’s interest to allow its soil to be used for terrorist activity outside nor should outsiders carry out terrorist strikes in Pakistan.
Mr. Khan said he understood that it was election year in India and any “lesson to Pakistan would give a boost [to the party in power].” Pakistan was hearing voices in the media and from Indian politicians saying that Islamabad should be taught a lesson. “What international law allows a country to be judge, jury and executioner?” he wanted to know.
He promised that if India provided Islamabad with “actionable intelligence” about Pakistani involvement in the Pulwama attack, in which 40 paramilitary personnel were killed, “I guarantee action.”
India, he suggested, should embrace a “new thought process” and introspect why young people in Kashmir were no longer scared of death. Like in Afghanistan, a dialogue on Kashmir should also take place, Mr. Khan added.
Pak. Minister pleads with U.N.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi pleaded with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to intervene, saying India was threatening to “use force against Pakistan” and abandon a vital water treaty.
“It is imperative to take steps for de-escalation. The United Nations must step in to defuse tensions,” wrote Mr. Qureshi in a message shared with journalists.
(With inputs from Agencies)