Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Saturday appeared skeptical of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim that Islamabad will not allow its soil to be used for terrorism abroad.
“We see the same script repeating again,” Kumar said at a press briefing. “Pakistan has to now move ahead, beyond mere words, and take some credible, verifiable and sustained action against terrorists and terror groups.”
The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said that if Imran Khan’s Pakistan is a “naya Pakistan with a nayi soch” (new Pakistan with a new way of thinking), then it should also demonstrate “naya action” (new action) against terrorist groups and infrastructure on its soil, and end cross-border terrorism.
Kumar questioned Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s claim earlier this month that Jaish-e-Mohammad has not claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack of February 14. He said the United Nations Security Council has unanimously said that Jaish-e-Mohammad has taken responsibility.
“Is Pakistan defending the Jaish-e-Mohammad?” the spokesperson asked “Does Pakistan’s claim have any credibility?” He said in 2004, the then-Pakistan president had said that Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used for terorrist activities, but they still continue to flourish.
Pakistani law enforcement agencies began a crackdown on banned groups on Tuesday by detaining more than 100 people, and took control of 182 schools till Thursday. It added Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed’s organisations Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniyat to its list of proscribed groups. Previously, these groups were only on the “watch” list.
Pakistan also claimed to have detained 44 individuals linked to banned outfits, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar’s brother and son. Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14, which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force soldiers.
On Thursday, Pakistan said it has sealed the Lahore headquarters of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniyat.
However, Kumar said: “Pakistan claims to proscribe groups and individuals, but this is only on paper. Actually, terrorist groups and individuals continue their activities without hindrance. Pakistan has not shown any serious intent to address the legitimate concerns of India and the international community.”
The spokesperson said Major Asif Ghafoor, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations, the Pakistan military’s media arm, openly denied that Jaish-e-Mohammad exists in Pakistan, despite former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf admitted the group’s presence in the country.
The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said that the Indian government has eyewitness accounts and electronic evidence to show that a Pakistani F-16 jet was shot down. Parts of the AMRAAM missile, which only Pakistan F-16s carry, are also available as evidence, Kumar added.
Kumar said that Pakistan has refused access to journalists to the area in Balakot where the Indian Air Force conducted strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp on February 26. This means, he said, that they have “plenty to hide”. “We are absolutely confident that the strike on Balakot was successful, and has achieved our objectives,” he added.
Kumar also said, in response to a question, that India has put in an extradition request for businessman Nirav Modi with the British authorities, but the United Kingdom is yet to respond. A report on Friday had said that Modi is living at a plush apartment in London’s West End. Modi is accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank of Rs 13,000 crore, and had fled India in 2018. The scam is till date the biggest banking fraud in the country’s history.
Here’s the full text of the Ministry of External Affairs’ statement:
- You are all aware of the developments following the heinous terrorist attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir State, on 14 February, that was executed by the Pakistan-based and UN-proscribed terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The Foreign Secretary and the Spokespersons of our Armed Forces have already briefed the media on the action taken by us against the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
- Our non-military counter terrorism strike of 26 February achieved the intended objective. It has demonstrated our firm resolve to take decisive action against cross-border terrorism.
- On 27 February Pakistan, instead of taking action against terrorist groups on its soil, chose to escalate through an act of aggression by violating our air space and attempting, unsuccessfully, to target our military facilities. Their action was effectively thwarted by the alertness and readiness of our armed forces.
- We have been transparent and open in informing the media on 27 February itself that, in the process of defending our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, one Mig 21 Bison was lost in action and Wing Commander Abhinandan had to bail out and landed in Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan, however, continues to propagate a false narrative of the events of that day.
- The statement by our Indian Air Force is in the public domain. Only one aircraft was lost by us. If, as Pakistan claims, they have a video recording of the downing of a second Indian aircraft, why have they not shown it to the international media even after more than one week? Questions should be asked to them as to where the fuselage of the aircraft is and what has happened to the pilots? As we have already said, there are eye-witness accounts and electronic evidence that Pakistan deployed F-16 aircraft and that one F-16 was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan. Evidence of the use of AMRAAM Missile, which can only be deployed on the F-16 with Pakistan, has also been shown to the media. Pakistan should explain why it continues to deny that its F-16 aircraft has been shot down? We have asked the United States to also examine whether the use of F16 against India is in accordance with the terms and conditions of sale.
- Since the Pulwama attack, the international community has solidly stood with India in their condemnation of the attack as well as in asking Pakistan to take concrete action against terrorists and terrorist infrastructure in territories under the control of Pakistan. The United Nations Security Council unanimously issued a Press Statement in which they have explicitly referred to the Jaish-e-Mohammed as having claimed responsibility for the attack. The UN Security Council Press Statement also calls for perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism to be held accountable and brought to justice. It is regrettable that Pakistan still continues to deny Jaish-e-Mohammed’s own claim of taking ownership of the Pulwama attack. In his interview to BBC on 1 March, Pakistan Foreign Minister said, and I quote “they have not claimed responsibility of that (Pulwama attack). There is some confusion on that. The confusion is that the leadership has been contacted and they said no” unquote. Is Pakistan defending the Jaish-e-Mohammed and acting as its spokesperson? Does Pakistan’s claim have any credibility?
- In 2004, the then President of Pakistan had made a solemn public commitment that they would not allow any territory under their control to be used for terrorist activity in any manner. But till today, however, Pakistan has failed to take any credible action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terrorist organizations, which continue to operate with impunity from Pakistan. The widespread presence of terrorist camps in Pakistan is a public knowledge within and outside Pakistan. Repeated requests by us and the international community for Pakistan to take action against such groups has been met with denial.
- Since 26 February, following demands from the international community, Pakistan is again claiming to take fresh action against terror groups on its soil. In an interview to CNN on 28 February, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan has said, and I quote “Well, he is (Masood Azhar) in Pakistan according to my information” unquote. Claims are being made that terrorist organizations will be proscribed, that some individuals have been placed in preventive detention and that some action has been taken against seminaries and Madarsas belonging to terrorist groups. We are seeing the same script that has been played out earlier after the terrorist attacks on our Parliament in December 2001, the Mumbai terrorist attack in November 2008 and the attack on Pathankot airbase in January 2016. Pakistan claims to proscribe groups and individuals, but this is confined only on paper. Actually, terrorist groups and individuals continue their activities without hindrance. Pakistan has not shown any serious intent to address the legitimate concerns of India and the global community.
- Despite the media interviews by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister and former President Musharraf acknowledging the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan, the spokesperson of the Pakistan armed forces openly denied the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan, in an interview on 6 March. This statement is a sufficient proof that Pakistan still remains in a state of denial.
- We remain resolute in our determination to persuade the international community of the necessity of compelling Pakistan to move beyond mere words and to show credible, verifiable and sustained actions. We have, and we will continue to act with responsibility and maturity. Our armed forces continue to maintain strict vigil and will remain determined in the defence of the nation and its citizens.
- If Pakistan claims to be a “naya Pakistan with nayi soch”, it should show “naya action” against terrorist groups and terror infrastructure on its soil and end cross border terrorism in support of its claims.