NEW DELHI: Although the final UN decision to put Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar on international terror list pointedly deleted any reference to Pulwama, India maintained on Thursday that it was the death of its 40 paramilitary men in a suicide attack there that led to the final agreement.
Addressing the press a day after China lifted its technical hold on the listing of Masood Azhar, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “Our objective was to ensure the designation of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist,” adding that the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed, played a key role in Azhar’s designation.
“The designation is not based on the basis of a specific incident, but on the basis of evidence which we have shared with members of the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee, linking Azhar to several acts of terrorism,” he said.
Reacting to reports that the Pulwama attack by the militant outfit did not find mention in the UN decision on Azhar’s listing, Mr Kumar said “elements [are] being introduced to divert attention from Pakistan on this diplomatic setback that they have suffered. They can’t welcome the decision, they can’t criticise the decision and the only option left for them is to pick up some holes.”
Former Indian PM in rare interview criticises Modi for threatening Pakistan with nuclear rhetoric to garner votes
Modi slammed over nuclear speech for votes
Bragging about nuclear weapons to threaten Pakistan revealed a lack of gravitas in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also showed his desperation in the face of imminent defeat in the elections currently underway, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh has said in an interview published on Thursday.
While the interview with Hindustan Times’ Sunetra Choudhury was apparently conducted before the UN decision to place Azhar on the international terror list, Dr Singh indicated his government’s quiet successes in working with China and other powers to put pressure on Pakistan over terrorism.
Responding to the BJP’s charge that he had responded tamely to the Mumbai terror attack, which India blamed on groups inside Pakistan, Dr Singh said there was a plan for military punitive action but it was overruled in favour of successful diplomatic moves to pressure Pakistan.
“In the absence of facts, everyone can re-judge history in hindsight,” he said. “I disagree with the insinuation that we were not ready with military punitive actions. However, different geopolitical conditions require different responses …Within 14 days of the Mumbai attack, we got China to agree to declare Hafiz Saeed as a global terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of UN. Congress-UPA ensured that a $10m bounty was placed on the head of the Mumbai attack perpetrator and the founder of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hafiz Saeed by America.”
Dr Singh also said that Indian armed forces during his decade-long tenure received a free hand to respond to external threats and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s attempt to gain electoral mileage from military operations are “shameful and unacceptable”.
“Multiple surgical strikes took place during our tenure, too. For us, military operations were meant for strategic deterrence and giving a befitting reply to anti-India forces than to be used for vote garnering exercises,” Dr Singh, 86, told the newspaper in a rare interview.
Dr Singh described the death of 40 paramilitary men in Pulwama as a security lapse. “Compromise on India’s national security is unacceptable. Forty of our brave CRPF soldiers were martyred in the Pulwama terror attack at the most secure National Highway in the country. This is a grave intelligence and national security failure. Since then, it has come out that CRPF and BSF were requesting for airlifting the soldiers but the Modi government refused it.”
Dr Singh said “all other prime ministers saw military operations as strategic deterrence [for] giving a befitting reply to anti-India forces”. Mr Modi had used them for vote garnering exercises.
“In the past 70 years, a government in power never had to hide behind the valour of our armed forces. Such attempts to politicise our forces are shameful and unacceptable. All this is being done to draw the attention away from unpardonable failures of Modi government on the economic front, on jobs, on rural distress, on micro small and medium enterprises and the informal sector.”
Clean chit to Indian PM
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was given a clean chit by the Election Commission on Thursday for his comment that India has nuclear weapons and does not care about Pakistan’s threats, NDTV said on Thursday.
The comment, the Election Commission said, does not violate the Model Code of Conduct — a set of dos and don’ts for political parties and the government ahead of elections.
His remarks were vehemently panned by the opposition, which said it was “boastful” and “irresponsible”. The Congress’s Anand Sharma said such statements “point to the growing desperation” of the BJP. “Prime Minister’s boastful claims of being ready for a nuclear missile attack on Pakistan and US intervention are uncalled for and not in interest of national security,” he tweeted.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2019