Indian PM Modi warns Pakistan of strong response for Kashmir attack

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute at Palam airport in New Delhi on February 15, 2019 as he stands next to the coffins containing the remains of Indian paramilitary troopers who were killed after a suicide bomber rammed a car into a bus carrying them in south Kashmir the day before. (India's Press Information Bureau/Handout via REUTERS)
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This handout photo shows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking during the inauguration and foundation stone laying ceremony of various development projects in Jhansi, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Feb. 15, 2019. (India’s Press Information Bureau via AFP)
Updated 15 February 2019

Indian PM Modi warns Pakistan of strong response for Kashmir attack

  • India withdraws Most Favorite Nation (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan
  • Islamabad denies link with the attack

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday promised a strong response to a car bombing in Kashmir that killed 44 paramilitary that his government blamed on Pakistan, ratcheting up tensions with the nuclear-rival.
The attack on a military convoy in Jammu and Kashmir where India has been battling an insurgency was the worst in decades and comes just months before Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalists face a tight general election.
“We will give a befitting reply, our neighbor will not be allowed to de-stabilize us,” Modi said in a speech soon after he called his security advisers to consider a response to the attack that has provoked an outpouring of anger on social media and demands for retribution.
The Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility soon after a suicide bomber rammed his car laden with explosives into a bus carrying Central Reserve Police Force personnel on Thursday.
The Indian government said it had incontrovertible evidence of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack. Islamabad rejected the suggestion it was linked to the attack.
India will take all possible diplomatic steps to ensure the “complete isolation” of Pakistan, cabinet minister Arun Jaitley told reporters soon after the cabinet committee met at Modi’s residence.
As a first step, this would include India removing most favored nation (MFN) trade privileges given to Pakistan, Jaitley said.
“The ministry of external affairs will initiate all possible steps, and I am here referring to all possible diplomatic steps which have to be taken to ensure the complete isolation from the international community of Pakistan,” he said.
But bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is barely $2 billion per year and Modi facing a tough election is likely to come under pressure for a more muscular response.
He took office in 2014 promising to tackle Muslim Pakistan, with which India has twice gone to war since independence from Britain in 1947
Kashmir is a Muslim-majority region at the heart of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan. The neighbors both rule parts of the region while claiming the entire territory as theirs.
The last major attack in Kashmir was in 2016 when militants raided an Indian army camp in Uri, killing 20 soldiers. Modi responded with a surgical strike on suspected militant camps across the border in Pakistan Kashmir weeks later.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the latest Kashmir attack a matter of “grave concern.”
But in a brief statement early on Friday it added: “We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to the State of Pakistan without investigations.”
The White House urged Pakistan in a statement “to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil.” It said the attack strengthens US resolve to step up counter-terrorism cooperation with India.


Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.