Pakistan warns India against attack

Pakistani people watch the television as Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to the population about the suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir that happened on February 14, in Islamabad on February 19, 2019Image copyright

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In a televised address, Mr Khan called on India to provide evidence to support its claims that Pakistan was involved

Pakistan PM Imran Khan says his country will retaliate if India takes military action against it in the aftermath of last week’s suicide attack on Indian forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.

In a televised address, he also called on India to provide evidence to support its claims that Pakistan was involved.

More than 40 members of India’s security forces died in Thursday’s suicide bombing.

A Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, said it was behind it.

The attack has raised tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, who have fought two wars and a limited conflict in the region.

In his first comments addressing the Kashmir militant attack, Mr Khan said India should “stop blaming Pakistan without any proof or evidence” and said that only dialogue could help solve issues in Kashmir.

“Any adventurism on the part of India to threaten the sovereignty of Pakistan will be met with assured retaliation,” he said.

Mr Khan said he had not addressed the attack earlier because of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s high-profile visit to Pakistan over the weekend.

The Pakistani premier, who was elected last year, said his government was ready to cooperate with Delhi in investigating the attack.

Mr Khan said India needed to “introspect” on causes of violence in Kashmir, and realise that there could be “no military solution”.

Earlier on Tuesday, India’s top military commander in Kashmir accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of “controlling” last week’s attack.

“It was being controlled from across by ISI and Pakistan and Jaish-e-Mohammad commanders,” Lieutenant-General KJS Dhillon said of the bomb attack. He did not not provide any proof for his accusation but India has long accused Pakistan of backing militant separatists in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The suicide bomber who carried out last Thursday’s attack has been identified as a young man from Indian-administered Kashmir. On Monday India killed three militants in a gun battle that it said were members of Jaish-e-Mohammad. Four Indian soldiers and a policeman died in the gunfight.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir, but control only parts of it.

Thursday’s bombing of the convoy was the deadliest attack on Indian forces in the region for decades.

Pakistan has strongly denied any role but India has accused the state of being complicit and vowed to isolate its neighbour internationally.

So far India has focused on retaliation by economic and diplomatic means. It has revoked Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nation trading status and raised customs duties to 200%.

Both countries have recalled top diplomats.

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