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Centre trashes Pak PM Imran Khan's lame excuse on Pulwama attack

Will act if given proof, says Khan; MEA reminds him of 26/11 dossier

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India on Tuesday dismissed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's statement as a "lame excuse" for offering to investigate, "if given proof", the role of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed in the Pulwama attack that killed 40 soldiers.

In a strongly worded statement, the Ministry of External Affairs asked Khan to "stop misleading the world" and take "credible and visible action" against terror masterminds operating from Pakistan's soil. In a televised address Khan said Islamabad will take action if New Delhi shares actionable evidence of last week's suicide bombing in Kashmir. In the same breath, he held out a warning, saying his country will retaliate to a provocation.

The MEA hit out at Khan, saying he has ignored JeM's claims, as well as by the terrorist who blew up himself. "These should be sufficient proof for Pakistan to take action," read MEA's statement. It also noted that Khan has so far neither condemned nor condoled the terror strike.

Recalling how proof was given after the 26/11 Mumbai attack and terror strike at the Pathankot airbase, MEA said "promises of "guaranteed action" ring hollow given the track record of Pakistan. It asked Pakistan to stop fooling the world about its fight against terror.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too slammed Khan. "In the past evidence when in relation to 26/11, both evidence and intelligence was given, we know the fate. It is a diversionary statement."

Khan in his statement also tried to distance himself from past actions of Pakistani governments.

"I am telling you clearly, this is naya Pakistan. It is a new mindset, a new way of thinking. We believe that it is in our interest that our soil is not used for carrying out terrorist attacks in other countries, nor do we want outsiders to come and carry out terror attacks here. We desire stability," he asserted.

But the MEA rejected this contention, reminding Khan that his ministers were publicly sharing platforms with terrorists like Hafeez Saeed who have been proscribed by the United Nations. In September 2018, Pakistan's Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri shared a platform with Hafiz Saeed, where both made anti-India statements. Last year a video surfaced in which Pakistan's Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi supported Hafiz Saeed and his organisation.

Khan had also said since election are approaching in India there have been talks of action against Pakistan since it boosts prospects. Slamming this statement, the MEA said "it is regrettable that the Pakistani Prime Minister has insinuated that India's response to the terrorist attack is determined by the forthcoming general elections", adding, "India's democracy is a model for the world which Pakistan would never understand."

India has mounted a diplomatic campaign to isolate Islamabad since the terror attack. Over 30 foreign envoys from ASEAN, Africa, Central Asia, permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council have been briefed about Pakistan's involvement in the Pulwama terror attack. On economic front, New Delhi has revoked the Most favoured nation status to Pakistan and increased customs duty on the goods coming from the other side of the border to 200 per cent. Both India and Pakistan have also called back their envoys.

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