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India wants Pakistan to walk the talk on terror for de-escalation: Sources

Relations have been on edge since India conducted an air strike within Pakistan on a facility of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claimed the Pulwama terror attack.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2019 22:25 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Tensions have spiked after India and Pakistan said on Wednesday they had shot down each other’s warplanes(REUTERS)

The Indian government believes the ball is in Pakistan’s court to de-escalate tensions by taking immediate, credible and verifiable action against terrorists and proxies operating from its soil, government sources said on Thursday.

Tensions have spiked after the two countries said on Wednesday they had shot down each other’s warplanes and Islamabad confirmed the capture of Indian fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

Relations have been on edge since India conducted an air strike within Pakistan on a facility of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claimed the Pulwama terror attack.

The Indian government believes none of its actions have led to an escalation, and it has focused on the main issue of the need for counter-terrorism initiatives by Pakistan in its engagement with the world community, the sources said.

Also read: Pak to release captured IAF pilot tomorrow as ‘peace gesture’: Imran Khan

The Indian side is also clear that Pakistan will not be allowed to use the captured Indian Air Force pilot as a bargaining tool, the sources said. A demarche or formal diplomatic representation handed over to Pakistan on Wednesday clearly stated that the pilot must be treated humanely and immediately returned, the sources added.

The government is keen to avert any attempt by Pakistan to use the pilot to influence the mood of the Indian people, as had happened in the case of the passengers of the Indian airliner hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999, the sources said.

The Indian government has also signalled to the world community that the country is not creating a war psychosis or shutting down its airspace or suspending a cross-border train, the sources noted. All such steps had been taken by Pakistan with an eye on the world community, they pointed out.

Also read: Must respect territorial integrity of all: China to Pak in late night call

The government has reached out to countries across the world, with officials in New Delhi and missions abroad briefing interlocutors on the action taken so far and Pakistan’s refusal to take action against terror groups operating from its soil, the sources said. Most countries had expressed their understanding for India’s position and called on Pakistan to crack down on terrorists even while calling for restraint, they added.

One of the outcomes of these engagements was the fresh move by the US, the UK and France on Wednesday to list JeM chief Masood Azhar by the UN’s 1267 Committee.

The sources said the Indian government has told interlocutors from other countries that it considered sharing actionable intelligence on JeM with Pakistan after the Pulwama Attack but decided not to do so because of Islamabad’s failure to act after the sharing of information on the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2016 terrorist assault on Pathankot airbase, the sources said.

Also read: First photo of F-16 engine part recovered in PoK contradicts Pakistan claim

India’s air strike on Tuesday targeted a JeM facility and was aimed at pre-empting further terror attacks, whereas Pakistan’s air strikes on Wednesday were an “act of aggression” as they were aimed at Indian military facilities, the sources said. They questioned whether Pakistan was trying to target India’s military to protect its terrorist proxies.

India is still ready for talks with Pakistan on March 14 for modalities for opening the Kartarpur Corridor to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistani Punjab as the issue affects the sizeable Sikh community and the proposal for the talks had come from Islamabad, the sources said.

Also read: We have ‘reasonably decent’ news from India and Pak, says Trump

On Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s remarks that Prime Minister Imran Khan was ready to talk to his Indian counterpart, the sources said Khan should walk the talk and take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists as India had already shared information on JeM through a dossier provided on Wednesday.

The Indian government was unclear about US President Donald Trump’s remarks about “good news” in ending India-Pakistan tensions, the sources said. The US has shown no ambiguity on India’s counter-terror actions, and India and Pakistan have a number of channels to talk and no third party mediation is needed, they added.

Also Watch: Opinion I Why IAF pilot’s release may not immediately de-escalate tensions

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 14:47 IST