Won’t let our soil be used for terror abroad: Pak PM Imran Imran

Speaking against the backdrop of tensions between the two countries triggered by the February 14 terror attack at Pulwama that was claimed by the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Khan reiterated his vow that Pakistan would respond to any sort of action by India.
By Imtiaz Ahmad | Islamabad
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2019 12:16 AM IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strong statement against terror groups came at a public rally in Sindh Province which has a large Hindu population(PTI)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday launched a scathing attack on his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, accusing the latter of engaging in “politics of hatred” with an eye on the upcoming elections, even as he pledged not to allow Pakistani soil to be used for terror directed at other countries.

Speaking against the backdrop of tensions between the two countries triggered by the February 14 terror attack at Pulwama that was claimed by the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Khan reiterated his vow that Pakistan would respond to any sort of action by India.

“The politics of hatred, dividing people for votes, is easy politics,” Khan told a rally organised by his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party at Chachro in southern Sindh province, a region close to the Indian border, and with a sizeable Hindu population.

“This is the politics of Narendra Modi. Divide humans, spread hatred and when a leader starts this, the workers under him do what we saw happened to the Kashmiris in India after Pulwama,” he said, referring to incidents of Kashmiris being targeted in some parts of India.

India’s ministry of external affairs didn’t officially respond to Khan’s speech.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) spokesperson declined comment.

India’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva on Thursday lashed out at Pakistan, saying its use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy is a “central problem” and the international community must unequivocally condemn terrorism and its perpetrators.

“The central problem is cross-border terrorism and Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy. This fact needs due recognition,” Rajiv Chander said at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, calling terrorism “the most fundamental violation of human rights”.

The diplomat underscored that India is a secular state and safeguarding the rights of minorities forms an essential core of its polity.

Pakistan’s PM Khan said in his speech that Muslims in India were now being persecuted. “There was Mahatma Gandhi, who fasted several times to stop attacks on Muslims, and today, there is Narendra Modi’s India, where the lives of Muslims are difficult and hatred is spread against Pakistan and war hysteria is created, only so that he can win the election,” Khan added.

India responded to the Pulwama attack by conducting an air strike on a JeM base within Pakistan on February 26. A day later, Pakistan targeted military installations across the Line of Control, triggering an aerial engagement in which an Indian jet was shot down and its pilot captured. India, too, shot down a Pakistani jet. The tensions reduced somewhat after Khan released the pilot.

“We want peace. We sent messages several times that we want peace. We returned the pilot because we don’t want war,” Khan said.

Speaking in Urdu, Khan said Pakistan would respond to any possible action by India. “If anyone thinks that to win an election, they will kill Pakistanis — don’t be under the mistaken impression that if you do something, there won’t be a response from here,” he said.

“If someone thinks they can enslave this country, whether it is India or a superpower, I want to say today that my country and I will fight for freedom till the last ball. Our armed forces have been training for the last 10-15 years, and they and the people are ready,” he added.

Khan also criticised the Indian government’s handling of minorities and said his government will protect the rights of Pakistan’s Hindu minority.

He also spoke about his government’s crackdown on militant groups, which began on March 5 with the banning of Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, fronts from Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the detention of more than 100 members of banned organisations.

Khan said all political parties had endorsed the National Action Plan for counter-terrorism and “no armed group will be allowed to function in Pakistan”. The action is aimed at creating a stable and peaceful Pakistan that can attract investments which will boost business and create jobs.

“But this government will not allow Pakistan’s soil to be used for any type of terrorism outside the country... There are several groups and I know their militant wings have ended. But as long as we are part of the international community and a responsible country, we will not allow any militant group to function in our country,” he added.

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