New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said Tuesday that Islamabad will “not think twice before retaliating” should India plan to mount an attack in the wake of the rising public anger after the Pulwama terror attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead.
Khan also urged a dialogue on the attack, for which the Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility, based on “actionable evidence”.
He said: “We are now hearing Indian political leaders through the media that they want to take revenge and strike Pakistan. Firstly, I wonder where in the world there is a law which allows an individual or a country to become the judge, jury and the executioner?
“Secondly, I understand this will give you a huge boost politically as you near the elections. But if you think you can attack Pakistan, then Pakistan will not think twice before retaliating. There will be no other action left for us but to retaliate. And if that happens we all know what will happen. It is easy to start a war, that is in the control of man, but not its end. Only God knows where it will end.
“So I hope better sense will prevail, we will ponder over it and discuss the issue, the solution to Kashmir can only be achieved through dialogue.”
Ready to help probe
He said if India believes the attack was carried out by terrorists based in Pakistan, then his government is ready to assist India in the investigation. He also asked the Narendra Modi government to share “actionable intelligence” on the attack, even as he stressed that his government will do this not because it is under some kind of a pressure, but to defend and protect his own country from such terrorists.
“We are ready to help India in any kind of investigation or probe on this matter. If you have any actionable intelligence that indicates Pakistan is involved then share it with us. It is my personal guarantee that we will take action on that. We will take action not because we are under pressure from someone, but because we feel this is an act of enmity against Pakistan as well if a terrorist is using our soil to conduct its operation. This is against our own interest,” he said in a video response issued five days after the Pulwama attack.
Why the delay in response?
The Pakistani Prime Minister said he took time to react because he and his team were busy preparing for the visit of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who concluded his trip to the country Monday. He added it was unfortunate that before the Indian government could verify why such an incident took place, it started blaming Pakistan.
“First thing you did was to blame Pakistan. Neither did you show any credible evidence nor did you think once before blaming us that what will be Pakistan’s benefit in this. Why will Pakistan conduct such an act when it was engaged in the preparations on the visit of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the investment conference that took place around his visit? No sane person will act in such a way to sabotage its own conference.”
He said Pakistan only aims to bring peace and stability in the country, as it has suffered acts of terrorism the most.
“And even if the visit was not taking place, what will Pakistan gain out of this? We have tolerated 15 years of terrorism in which 70,000 Pakistanis were killed. And why will we do such a thing when we are looking at peace and stability in Pakistan and taking steps towards it? What will we gain?” he asked.
Khan said New Delhi needed to stop making Pakistan a “whipping boy” and should resume the dialogue with Islamabad if it truly wants to solve the Kashmir dispute.
“I want to ask the Indian government that if you want to remain in the past and keep blaming Pakistan for every mishap that happens in Kashmir, then start a dialogue and take adequate measures in Kashmir. This way, you will continue to keep Pakistan as the whipping boy,” he said.
“This is a new Pakistan, this is a new mindset, this is a new thought. We want that neither should anyone use our soil to carry out terrorist attacks on other countries, nor will we allow anybody to enter Pakistan and carry out terrorist activities here. We want stability.”
‘Time for India to introspect on Kashmir’
Khan added: “Whenever we talk of holding a dialogue, India’s precondition remains that we should first act on terrorism. We are ready to talk about terrorism. We also want that terrorism gets eliminated in this region. We are a country which has suffered the most due to terrorism, we have lost 70,000 men and have suffered a loss of over 100 billion dollars financially due to terrorism. Hence, we are ready to talk only terrorism.”
Pointing towards the stance that the US government has taken in bringing peace in Afghanistan after waging a war there for 18 years, Khan said this is the only way.
“If after 17 years the whole world agrees that military was not the solution in Afghanistan and that it can only be solved through a dialogue, should India not also think about it? I feel India should now welcome a new thought and it should introspect why has the youth in Kashmir gone to that extent where they have lost the fear of death? Do you think this kind of one-dimensional oppression and solving the issue through military means will bring peace in Kashmir?”
Khan’s remarks came a day after his government called back its High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, for consultation.
This article has been updated with more quotes from Imran Khan’s statement.