ISLAMABAD: Prime Min­ister Imran Khan on Sunday reiterated his commitment as he asked his Indian counterpart Naren­dra Modi again to provide actionable intelligence, if any, so that Pakistan could take action against those involved in Pulwama attack.

Prime Minister Khan’s statement came in response to the Indian premier’s rec­ent remarks that Mr Khan should stand by his words that Pakistan and India should fight illiteracy and poverty together, instead of fighting each other.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan stands by his words that if India gives us actionable intelligence, we will immediately act,” Mr Khan said: “PM Modi should give peace a chance,” he added.

“In my meeting with PM Modi in December 2015, we had agreed that since poverty alleviation is a priority for our region, we would not allow any terrorist incident to derail peace efforts,” he said. “However, long before Pulwama, these efforts were derailed in September 2018. Sadly.”

FO warns against attempts to bring about demographic changes in India-held Kashmir

Urging India not to politicise the Pulwama attack as an ‘election stunt’, the prime minister said peace remained elusive due to elections in India.

Speaking at a public meeting in Tonk in Rajasthan on Saturday, Mr Modi said: “Pakistan got its new prime minister, who everyone knew as a cricketer. I called him to greet him as a matter of protocol. I said to him, ‘Mr Prime Minister, India and Pakistan have fought several times. It hasn’t done your country any good. Why don’t we fight poverty and illiteracy together’?

The prime minister [Imran Khan] agreed and assured me that he was a son of a Pathan and speaks the truth…will always be true to his words. The time has come to see if Mr Khan will stand by his words.”

Prime Minister Khan in his address to the nation on Tuesday had offered India to resume talks on contentious issues, including Kashmir, but warned New Delhi to refrain from launching any attack on Pakistan and said: “If there is an attack from India, Pakistan will not merely think of retaliation, but will retaliate.”

Earlier, New Delhi had blamed Islamabad for being involved in the Pulwama the incident and threatened a possible strike in response to the attack.

Islamabad had condemned the Pulwama attack but cautioned India against linking Pakistan to the bombing without an investigation.

Prime Minister Khan had said: “I have an offer for the Indian government. If you have any actionable evidence, share it with us and we will take action. We are ready to cooperate with India in the investigations.”

In a related development, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi advised the Indian government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leadership to shun war frenzy for the sake of peace in the region.

In a brief video message, the foreign minister expressed concern over reports that India was planning to send 10,000 additional troops to held Kashmir and preparing its people for any eventuality to give a message of more aggression and brutality in the aftermath of the Pulwama incident.

“It is in this environment, I demand of the Indian government and the prime minister (Narendra Modi) to please end this war frenzy. End this irresponsible behaviour and stop killing unarmed innocent Kashmiri people,” Mr Qureshi said.

He said that he expected that the intellectuals and saner elements in India would urge their leadership to demonstrate restraint and avoid putting the whole region into turmoil which it was doing to achieve some “political gains.”

“Pakistan is a peace-loving country and wants peace in the region. But I want to give a clear message that you are mistaken if you think that Pakistan can be intimidated or put under pressure by creating war frenzy,” he said while addressing the Indian leadership. “Do not even think of casting an evil eye on Pakistan,” he added.

Mr Qureshi said that Pakistan was talking about defusing tension, but the Indian government was whipping up tension by issuing notifications regarding leave cancellation of its medical professionals and ensuring supply of grains to the people to store it for bad days.

The foreign minister declared that the whole nation was united like a fist and Pakistan’s armed forces, political leadership, political parties and every child stood by the Kashmiri people in their struggle for the right of self-determination.

Meanwhile, Mr Qureshi talked to his German counterpart Heiko Maas over telephone and briefed him on the security situation in the region in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack.

He told Mr Maas that despite Indian aggressive attitude, Pakistan had behaved in a responsible manner and offered cooperation to New Delhi in the investigations into the Pulwama attack.

Mr Qureshi also held consultations with former diplomats to get their input so that a comprehensive and effective response could be devised to tackle emerging developments.

The foreign minister, after the meeting, said that the discussion with former diplomats on issues pertaining to foreign policy, including the situation in occupied Kashmir, was helpful.

Demographic changes

Pakistan on Sunday categorically said any attempt to bring about demographic changes in the Indian-occupied Kashmir was a blatant violation of international law and the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, APP reports.

“We understand that the Supreme Court of India is due to deliberate, shortly, on the petitions calling for scrapping of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution. Pakistan condemns any such attempts as these are clearly aimed at bringing about demographic changes in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.

He recalled that international law and the relevant UNSC resolutions prohibited introducing material changes to the disputed territory.

The spokesman said the evolving situation in the IoK was equally a matter of grave concern. Following reprisal attacks against the Kashmiris in the IoK and many parts of India after the Pulwama attack, there had been further heavy-handed steps, including enhanced use of force, large-scale arrests and incarceration of senior Kashmiri leaders, he added.

He said the large-scale deployment of additional paramilitary forces and orders by the local administration to hospitals and about sale of fuel and food grains were contributing to an atmosphere of extreme intimidation and fear.

Immediate steps were required to reverse this frenzy and restore calm, the spokesperson added.

He said the international community should take cognizance of the situation and counsel India to refrain from further escalation, defuse tensions and resolve issues through dialogue and engagement.

Amir Wasim also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2019

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