Will ensure complete isolation of Pak, says Govt; withdraws MFN status
India on Friday served a strong message to Pakistan and terror groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force jawans are feared to have been killed on Thursday. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, decided to withdraw the most favoured nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan and “initiate all possible steps” to ensure complete isolation of the country.
In a rare media briefing after a CCS meet, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “The most favoured nation status granted to Pakistan stands withdrawn. The ministry of commerce will issue necessary notification in this regard.” India had granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996, a year after formation of the World Trade Organisation for promotion of international trade.
The MFN status was not withdrawn even during the 1999 Kargil War, neither in the aftermath of the attacks on Parliament in 2003, Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, when more than 160 people were killed or after the Uri terror attack, which saw special forces of the Indian Army cross the Line of Control (LoC) to conduct a surgical strike to demolish terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 2016.
The minister also said India will press for an early adoption of a draft convention on international terrorism pending with the United Nation since 1986. India had tabled a draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism in the United Nations in 1986, when late Congress president Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister.
“But for the past 33 years, it has not been implemented because there is no unanimity on the definition of terrorism,” Jaitley said adding, the government will consult all countries to implement it and engage with them for early adoption of the anti-terror measure.
The draft convention proposes to declare all forms of international terrorism a criminal offence and seeks to deny funding and shelter to terrorists.
Jaitley also said there is “incontrovertible evidence” to prove Pakistan’s hand behind the Pulwama terror attack on a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying more than 2,500 CRPF jawans from Jammu to Srinagar. The convoy was targeted by the militants in a suicide attack ramming one of the buses with an explosive-laden SUV on Jammu-Srinagar highway.
Thursday’s terror attack is the worst of its kind in the Kashmir Valley in terms of loss of lives. In 2001, 38 people had died when militants attacked the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack. The group also released a video of the suspected attacker, who was a local youth. The authenticity of the claim is yet to be verified by the security agencies.
“The ministry of external affairs will initiate all possible steps… all possible diplomatic steps, which have to be taken to ensure complete isolation of Pakistan of which incontrovertible evidence is available of having a direct hand behind this gruesome attack,” Jaitley said.
The CCS observed a two-minute silence as a mark of respect to the “supreme sacrifice” made by the CRPF jawans, he said adding, “The security forces will be taking all possible steps to ensure full security is maintained…Those who have committed this heinous act of terrorism and those supporting are made to pay heavy cost.”
After attending the CCS meet, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh headed to Jammu and Kashmir to review the security arrangements in the Valley. On his return, an all party meet will be held on Saturday, when Singh will brief the political parties on the terror attack and the security situation in the Kashmir Valley.
The high-powered security meet had been called to discuss the security issues arising after Pulawama terror attack. Apart from Jaitley and Singh, the CCS meet was attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.