IN A significant admission, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has acknowledged that his country can no longer allow terror groups to organise with impunity on its soil. Khan also said that he fears further military hostilities with India in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
In an interview to Financial Times, Khan said, “We cannot take the stance any more where you have these armed groups in our country… We can’t afford being blamed for any terrorist activity, like Pulwama, like what happened.”
Khan insisted that there was no place for terrorists in his “new Pakistan”, claiming that he was conducting the most serious crackdown on terrorist groups in the country’s history. “We’re already cracking down on them, we’re already dismantling the whole set-up,” he said. “What is happening right now has never happened before in Pakistan,” he told FT.
Khan also claimed that he is “still apprehensive” that “something could happen” before the general elections in India. Describing India as gripped with “war hysteria”, Khan told FT in the interview: “I’m still apprehensive before the elections, I feel that something could happen.”
While Pakistan has claimed to have taken action against terrorist groups, including taking control of Jaish-e-Mohammad’s facilities, India has described the action as “cosmetic”. New Delhi has asked for “verifiable, credible, visible and sustained” action against terrorists, terrorist groups, their proxies and the terrorist infrastructure.
On February 26, 12 days after the terror attack in Pulwama claimed by Jaish, India conducted air strikes on the outfit’s camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. “When Pulwama (the suicide attack in Kashmir) happened I felt that Mr (Narendra) Modi’s government used that to build this war hysteria,” said Khan.
“The Indian public should realise that this is all for winning the elections, it’s nothing to do with the real issues of the subcontinent,” he claimed, while blaming the Pulwama attack on what he called Modi’s “anti-Muslim” government and its policies in Kashmir.
Khan also rejected claims that Pakistan had links to Jaish. “There’s Jaish-e-Mohammad in India, the boy who blew himself up, the 19-year-old boy, was a Kashmiri-Indian boy… His parents said how he was radicalised by some abuse by the security force, so it was an Indian boy, Indian operation, Indian car, Indian explosive. Why was Pakistan blamed?” Khan said.
India has given a dossier to Pakistan on Jaish’s involvement in the Pulwama attack, but there has been no official response so far. It has also shared key excerpts of the dossier with all UN members, including the Security Council. The US and France — among other countries — have asked Pakistan to take action against the perpetrators of the attack.