India spurns PM Khan's olive branch, says offer to investigate is 'lame excuse'

Updated February 19, 2019

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India's Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. —Photo: Reuters/File
India's Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. —Photo: Reuters/File

India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday evening responded to Prime Minister Imran Khan's offer for an investigation and dialogue over the Pulwama attack with further vitriol.

In a statement that spurned Islamabad's effort to defuse tensions, New Delhi described PM Khan's statement that Pakistan itself has been the biggest victim of terrorism as "far from the truth".

"We are not surprised that the prime minister of Pakistan refuses to acknowledge the attack on our security forces in Pulwama as an act of terrorism. Prime minister of Pakistan has neither chosen to condemn this heinous act nor condoled with the bereaved families," the MEA complained.

The complaint ignored Pakistan's official stance on the matter, with the Foreign Office stating that Pakistan has always condemned acts of extreme violence in Kashmir.

"Disclaiming any link between the terrorist attack and Pakistan is an oft-repeated excuse by Pakistan," the MEA wrote, alleging that PM Khan "has ignored claims" made by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) as well as the bomber behind the attack.

However, no explanation was offered in the statement as to what these "claims" were that the Indian government believe prove a Pakistani link to the attack.

It is understood that JeM — which is banned in Pakistan and listed as a terrorist organisation — has claimed responsibility for the incident. It is unclear what the MEA believes ties JeM's statement claiming responsibility of the attack to Pakistan.

After Pulwama, Pakistan has repeated that it is already taking action against JeM as it considers it a terrorist group.

According to Indian media reports, the bomber was a citizen of Indian occupied Kashmir. The parents of the bomber have stated that he turned to militancy after being humiliated and tortured by Indian occupation forces. No mention of how the bomber is connected to Pakistan was specified in the statement.

Instead of the 'actionable evidence' that PM Khan requested in order to be able to provide assistance to New Delhi, the MEA only repeated the accusation that "Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Masood Azhar are based in Pakistan. These should be sufficient proof for Pakistan to take action."

"The Prime Minister of Pakistan has offered to investigate the matter if India provides proof. This is a lame excuse. In the horrific attack in Mumbai on 26/11, proof was provided to Pakistan. Despite this, the case has not progressed for the last more than 10 years. Likewise, on the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, there has been no progress," the MEA has alleged.

The statement failed to acknowledge that Indian authorities themselves impeded the Pathankot investigation.

Regarding the Mumbai Attacks, PM Khan had stated in December 2018 in an interview to The Washington Post that he intended to see the case resolved and has asked his government to look into it.

The MEA also blocked Prime Minister Khan's proposal for a dialogue with vague conditions stating, "Pakistan’s Prime Minister has called for dialogue and expressed his readiness to talk about terrorism. India has repeatedly stated that it is ready to engage in a comprehensive bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence."

The MEA also dedicated a paragraph to admonishing PM Khan for implying that the whipping up of war hysteria across the border may be politically motivated, especially given that the Indian general election is coming up later this year.

"India rejects this false allegation. India’s democracy is a model for the world which Pakistan would never understand," it said.