Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Friday night that an attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri could be the result of the recent unrest in Kashmir, as he sought to distance his country from the brazen strike that killed 18 soldiers.
Indian officials have pointed to the involvement of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e Mohammad, which was also blamed for the Pathankot airbase attack in January. With New Delhi attempting to isolate Pakistan diplomatically over the Sunday attack, Islamabad has harped on the Kashmir crisis to counter the charges.
On his way back to Pakistan from New York, Sharif made a stopover at Britain’s Luton Airport where he addressed a news conference and alleged 108 people have died and thousands have been injured in the Kashmir unrest triggered by the killing of a militant leader.
“If this is not barbarism, what is it? They don’t talk about this barbarism and oppression,” Sharif said.
Kashmir has been on the boil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. Pakistani leaders have criticised India over the unrest and accused the neighbour of using excessive force. But New Delhi has slammed Islamabad for interfering in its internal affairs and backing terrorism.
“Anything can happen as a result of this. This attack in Kashmir in which (Indian) soldiers were killed --- there could have been a reaction by Kashmiris,” Sharif said, speaking in Urdu.
“So to blame us within 12 hours (of the Uri attack), that Pakistan is responsible, I think this was not appropriate.”
The Uri attack -- in which soldiers killed four militants -- has led to calls for an aggressive response against Pakistan, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowing to punish those behind the “cowardly” and “despicable” assault.
In the face of criticism, Sharif made a fresh offer of peace talks to India on Wednesday even as he called for an independent inquiry and a UN fact-finding mission into “rights violations” in Kashmir.
Sharif, in his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, described Hizbul’s Wani as a “young leader murdered by Indian forces” who has become the “symbol of the latest Kashmiri Intifada”.