Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said Pakistan will certainly retaliate if India declares war after the suicide bombing in Kashmir but also pledged to act against Pakistanis found involved in the attack if “actionable intelligence” was provided.
“If you (Indian government) think you will attack us and we will not think of retaliating, we will retaliate. We will have no other option other than retaliating. We all know starting a war is in the hands of humans, where it will lead us, only God knows,” a sombre Khan said in a nationwide broadcast.
The Pakistani leader said the Indian government blamed Pakistan for the February 14 Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF troopers without any evidence but added that Islamabad was ready to investigate the bombing and act if India gave “actionable intelligence”.
“India accused Pakistan without any evidence and without thinking how this (attack) would benefit us… This is Naya Pakistan. We have a new thought… Why would Pakistan do it when it’s moving towards stability?” Khan asked.
His response came days after New Delhi held Islamabad responsible for the attack in Pulwama that was claimed by the Pakistani-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Denying Islamabad’s involvement in the bombing, the Pakistani leader said: “India is in an election year and we know that speaking of attacking Pakistan is a popular move.”
Offering to probe the attack, he said: “Pakistan is ready to investigate the attack and act if India provides actionable intelligence. Not because we are under pressure but because it is our policy.
“If someone is using Pakistan’s soil (to carry out terror attacks elsewhere), he is our enemy. It is against our interests.”
At the same time, Khan urged New Delhi to introspect its actions while adding that Pakistan was ready for talks with India on terrorism.
“You want to remain stuck in the past and each time an incident happens in Kashmir, you want to hold Pakistan responsible. Instead of trying to resolve the (Kashmir) issue, starting a dialogue or moving forward, (you) make Islamabad your whipping boy again and again.
“India should reflect why people in Kashmir are so angry with India. Kashmiris are not afraid of death any more. There must be a reason for that. Should there not be a discussion in India on this?” he asked.
“Which law in the world allows anyone to become a judge and jury at the same time?”
Wondering if India wanted to resolve the Kashmir issue militarily, Khan said this would never succeed.
The Prime Minister added that whenever Pakistan tried to initiate a dialogue with India, New Delhi’s precondition was that terrorism must be discussed.
“We are ready to talk about terrorism. Terrorism is a regional issue… We want terrorism in the region to end.. Pakistan has been the worst affected by terrorism. Therefore, we are ready to talk to you.
“The Kashmir issue, like the Afghan issue, will be resolved through talks,” he said.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief said he got delayed speaking on the issue now because Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was visiting his country.
“Would we do such an act (suicide bombing) when the Saudi Crown Prince was visiting. Would a fool even consider sabotaging the conference and what benefit would we get out if it?” he asked.