Pakistan’s information and broadcasting minister on Saturday said he doubts whether the terror attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14 was the handiwork of the Jaish-e-Mohammed group. At least 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed in the suicide bomb attack. The extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

“These organisations [like Jaish-e-Mohammed] are dead, I seriously doubt their ability to do something like this,” Fawad Chaudhry told The Indian Express in a telephonic interview. “They are well under control.”

Chaudhry added that the Pakistani government and military are “very close” to each other. “The Imran Khan government and military are very close to each other, and I have no doubt that military is supportive of the government’s peace process,” the minister claimed.

He added that the attack has strengthened the “anti-peace lobby” in both India and Pakistan. The minister said Pakistan was trying to normalise relations with India and “come out of the economic mess”. “We couldn’t have expected a more sad timing for this incident,” Chaudhry said. “We were taken aback.”

The minister claimed that India needs to “look inward” instead of blaming Pakistan for the attack. “A segment of the Indian leadership is blaming external actors and not looking inward, about what is happening in Kashmir, so many people are dying,” he said. “And the kind of war-mongering that is happening, we are not ready for it.”

Chaudhry claimed that India had made Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar a “scapegoat”. “There are about 60 Jaish outfits here and all these groups are connected,” he said.

The minister was non-committal about India’s demand that Pakistan take immediate action against Jaish-e-Mohammed. “I don’t know about it…right now, we are busy with [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Salman’s visit...after the visit we will discuss,” he said.

Chaudhry claimed that while it is understandable that people get angry and “overreact” when there are blasts in India, Pakistan or Afghanistan, the political leadership wants to win elections.

Foreign minister claims India blamed Pakistan without inquiry

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed that New Delhi blamed Islamabad for the attack without any investigation. “It is easy to blame Pakistan but it will not solve the problem and the world will not be convinced,” he said in a video message from Germany, where he is attending the Munich Security Conference, PTI reported.

The foreign minister claimed no one can intimidate Pakistan by blaming it for the attack. He claimed that Islamabad is ready to help New Delhi with the investigation if it provides evidence. The message was shared by Pakistan’s ruling party, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, on its Twitter account.