Pakistan assurance on terror
Pakistan will not let its soil be used for terrorism against any state, “including India”, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday.
He claimed the Pakistani government had taken over the “nerve centre” of the Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group, blamed for the attack that killed 40 CRPF men in Pulwama last month and heightened bilateral tensions.
India had on Wednesday handed over to Pakistan a dossier with “specific details” of Jaish involvement in the February 14 attack and of the presence of the outfit’s camps in that country.
“India submitted its dossier…. If India wants to conduct talks on this, then we are ready for it,” Qureshi said.
He said there was a new government with a new mindset in Pakistan, and its policies were clear.
The comments came after Pakistan released a captured Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, as a “peace gesture” and Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke against war.
“We will not allow Pakistani soil to be used by any group or any organisation for terrorist activities against any state, including India,” the BBC quoted Qureshi as saying.
The minister, however, said there was “still confusion” over whether Jaish had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack. “The confusion is (that) the leadership (of Jaish), when contacted, said ‘No’,” he said.
Asked who had contacted the Jaish leadership, Qureshi said: “People over here, and the people who are known to them.”
Qureshi had earlier told CNN that Jaish chief Masood Azhar was in Pakistan and was “very unwell”, but argued that Islamabad could act against him only if India furnished “solid” and “inalienable” evidence that would stand in a court of law.
“He is in Pakistan, according to my information. He is unwell to the extent that he can’t leave his house, because he’s really unwell,” Qureshi said.
The UN Security Council, whose 15 members include key Pakistan ally China, had recently named Jaish in a statement condemning the “heinous and cowardly” Pulwama attack and asked that its organisers and financiers be brought “to justice”.
Qureshi told the BBC that the provincial government in Punjab, Pakistan, had taken over the “so-called nerve centre” of the Jaish in Bahawalpur, 400km from Lahore. The government had last month taken over control of a campus of the Madressatul Sabir and Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur.
He said Pakistan had not been under “pressure” or “any compulsion” to release Abhinandan. India says that Islamabad’s decision has been in consonance with the Geneva Conventions, and media reports have said the US, UAE and Saudi Arabia had pressured Pakistan to de-escalate the tensions with India and release the pilot.
Qureshi told the BBC: “We wanted to convey to them (India) that we do not want to increase your sorrow; we do not want your citizens to be miserable; we want peace.”