ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said Pakistan would act on “actionable intelligence” from India on the suicide bombing that killed 44 Indian troopers in Indian-administered Kashmir, but warned that Pakistan would retaliate if attacked by India.
The prime minister’s video message followed days of simmering tensions between the nuclear-armed arch rivals after a bomber slammed into an Indian police convoy in the disputed Kashmir Valley last week, killing at least 44 paramilitary police.
Jaish-e Mohammad (JeM), a militant group said to be based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility of the attack. The Pakistani government has denied any complicity.
"If you have any actionable intelligence that a Pakistani is involved, give it to us. I guarantee you that we will take action,” Khan said in a recorded message.
But he cautioned India against attacking Pakistan: “If you think that if you can carry out any kind of attack on Pakistan, Pakistan will not just think about retaliating, Pakistan will retaliate. There will be no other way for Pakistan to respond than to retaliate.”
Facing a general election in May this year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is under pressure from hardliners to take more decisive action against Pakistan. He has warned Pakistan to expect a “strong response” to the bombing.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since gaining independence from British rule in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Intermittent exchanges of small-arms and mortar fire along their de facto border, which the United Nations monitors, have been common in the past few years.
“India should realize that this is new Pakistan; it is not in our interest that somebody uses our soil to launch an attack outside or inside the country,” Khan said. “If somebody is using Pakistan’s territory [to launch an attack on another country], this is enmity against us, this is against our interests.”
The prime minister urged talks to resolve the Kashmir dispute and said Pakistan was ready to talk to India about terrorism, which India has always insisted is a prerequisite for any kind of improvement in ties.
"This issue will only be resolved through dialogue and talks,” Khan said. "We are even ready to talk about terrorism … Terrorism is a regional issue and we want that terrorism should be eradicated from this region. Pakistan has been the worst affected by terrorism … we are ready to talk with you.”
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign minister also appealed to the UN Secretary General to help ease tensions with India.
“It is with a sense of urgency that I draw your attention to the deteriorating security situation in our region resulting from the threat of use of force against Pakistan by India,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “It is imperative to take steps for de-escalation. The United Nations must step in to defuse tensions,” he said.