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Pakistan ‘ready to talk’ with India on Kashmir, will retaliate if attacked, says Imran Khan

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan (Photo by: AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan (Photo by: AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)

PAKISTAN is ready to help India investigate the suicide bomb attack in Kashmir, but will retaliate if Delhi attacks, prime minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday (19).

“Pakistan won’t just think to retaliate. Pakistan will retaliate,” Khan said in a nationally televised address.

The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack on February 14 that killed at least 41 Indian paramilitary soldiers.

The Pakistani government has denied any link to the blast, which has escalated tension between the two countries.

Khan said if any militant group was using Pakistani soil to launch attacks, “its enmity is with us. This is against our interest”.

Just minutes after the address, Khan’s official Instagram account posted a picture of the prime minister – scowling and cross-armed – along with a message that read: “Don’t mess with my country”.

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi is under pressure to exact revenge, and has accused Islamabad of harbouring the militants. He has vowed that terrorist groups and their masters will “pay a heavy price.”

In light of the deteriorating security situation, Pakistan on Tuesday appealed to the United Nations to intervene to ease tension between the two nations.

“Attributing it to Pakistan even before investigations is absurd,” Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a letter to UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

“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,” he said.

Qureshi also said India was threatening to abandon a vital water treaty.

“It is imperative to take steps for de-escalation. The United Nations must step in to defuse tensions,” wrote Qureshi.

Meanwhile, India’s top military commander in Kashmir, Lieutenant-General KJS Dhillon, accused Pakistan’s spy agency ISI of “controlling” last Thursday’s attack. He also urged mothers to get their militant sons to surrender or see them dead.

“I would request all the mothers in Kashmir to please request their sons who have joined terrorism to surrender and get back to the mainstream,” Dhillon told reporters in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir state. “Otherwise anyone who has picked up the gun will be killed.”

Indian forces on Monday (18) killed three militants, including the suspected organiser of the bombing, in a 17-hour military operation.

Dhillon said one of the militants killed was from Indian Kashmir while the other two were from Pakistan.

“It was being controlled from across by ISI and Pakistan and JeM commanders,” Dhillon said of the bomb attack.