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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday warned the international community that India could resort to military adventurism in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack and asked the neighbouring country to investigate the attack before passing on the blame and share “actionable evidence” so that the matter could be pursued.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in a TV interview in Munich, said he had told his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and other foreign ministers, whom he met on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference, that the Indian government could undertake some misadventure to capitalise on the outpouring of grief and anger over the Pulwama incident in which 44 Indian security personnel were killed.

Mr Qureshi in the interview said 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.

FM warns international community of New Delhi’s military adventurism in aftermath of Pulwama attack; India rejects Islamabad’s advice for probe

While assuring of Pakistan’s cooperation on the matter, the foreign minister asked India to probe the incident and share “actionable evidence” so that the matter could be pursued accordingly.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, meanwhile, rejected the Indian government’s remarks regarding Pakistan’s alleged link to the incident and continued her briefings for Islamabad-based foreign envoys on the Indian allegations for a second consecutive day.

She briefed the ambassadors of UN Security Council non-permanent members and the envoys from EU countries. Earlier on Friday, she had briefed the envoys of five permanent members of the Security Council.

The foreign secretary, FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said, in her engagements “underscored Pakistan’s position on the Pulwama attack. She categorically rejected Indian government’s remarks of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack”.

She told the envoys that it was “preposterous to think that Pakistan can be isolated”.

The attack has led to sharp escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public event in Maharashtra said he had left it to his armed forces to decide “what, where, when and how the perpetrators of the Pulwama attack will be punished”. In another event, he said “each drop of tears” would be avenged and there would be a “befitting response”.

The Indian government pointing fingers at Pakistan for the attack, which had been claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), has vowed to diplomatically isolate it. Several punitive economic measures have also been taken by India 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 $2billion bilateral trade. India has further decided to increase pressure on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to get Pakistan blacklisted over its alleged links with the JeM.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar rejected Pakistani call for a probe into the attack before blaming Pakistan.

“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,” the spokesman said.

In its protest demarche delivered to Pakistani High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood after the attack, India had asked Islamabad to take “immediate and verifiable action” against JeM. Pakistan, according to a source, was also told to act against all groups and individuals associated with terrorism allegedly operating from Pakistani territory.

Curiously, there has been no comment from Prime Minister Imran Khan over the developing situation.

However, Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif issued a strongly worded statement recalling Indian highhandedness in the occupied valley and its proclivity to accuse Pakistan without investigation immediately after terrorism incidents. He asked Indian leaders to think sensibly instead of hurling wild accusations and threats.

Attack on website

The FO spokesman said the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs faced attacks from Indian hackers. “Half of our website was down in several countries following which we started to take action.

“We had anticipated this action, we know they were panicking and would do something like this. The website has started being restored and would be completely restored soon,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2019