Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday condemned the Pulwama terror attack calling it a “cowardly act”. He, however, asked if an entire nation can be blamed for the actions of a handful of people, PTI reported.

The Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, in which at least 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed. Soon after the attack, India said Islamabad should stop letting terror groups operate from its territory. Pakistan said the attack was a “matter of grave concern” but rejected an involvement in it.

“It [the attack] is a cowardly act and I condemn it firmly,” PTI quoted Sidhu as saying. “Violence is always condemnable and those who did it must be punished. For a handful of people, can you blame the entire nation and can you blame an individual?” he asked in a purported reference to Pakistan.

Sidhu said a permanent solution to avoid such attacks should be found through dialogue, reported ANI. “How long will the jawans sacrifice their lives? How long will the bloodshed continue? People who do this must be punished. Hurling abuses won’t help.”

Sidhu was criticised last year for attending the swearing-in ceremony of cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan as prime minister of Pakistan without official government permission. He also faced further scrutiny when he embraced the Pakistan Army chief last year.