Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 June 2019

Pakistan’s Imran Khan warns of war as he calls for calm after India threat

Islamabad has asked the UN to intercede

Pakistan would strike back if India launched an attack after last week's Kashmir suicide bombing, Prime Minister Imran Khan warned.

But Mr Khan said he hoped that better sense would prevail.

The Pakistani leader said that if New Delhi responded against his country after 40 police were killed in the disputed Kashmir region last week, Pakistan would retaliate. "And after that, where will it head?”

India blames Islamabad for the attack on paramilitary officers in Pulwama, which was claimed by Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad. Pakistan has denied any involvement.

New Delhi has come under intense pressure to act after public outrage at the deadliest attack on Indian troops in a convoy in Kashmir and has threatened a “jaw-breaking response”.

As Indian security forces continued a crackdown in the disputed territory, New Delhi's commander in the region told mothers they should have their sons surrender or watch them die.

But Mr Khan said: “I have an offer for the Indian government: if you have any actionable evidence, share it with us and we will take action.

"We are ready to co-operate with India in the investigations," Mr Khan added.

Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister who faces a general election this spring, is under pressure to exact vengeance.

Pakistan's military has a long history of sponsoring militant groups as a matter of foreign policy and India has for decades accused it of causing trouble in Kashmir.

A 2016 attack on Indian troops in Kashmir, which killed 19, led to cross-border ground raids in by Delhi.

Analysts have said military options could include similar raids, air strikes, barrages or attacks on “high value” intelligence targets.

There has also been calls for India to pull out of an international treaty relating to sharing water from the Indus River.

Fighting has continued in Indian-controlled Kashmir after the bomb attack as Indian soldiers searched door to door for those responsible.

Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, commander of India's 15 Corps in Srinigar, accused Pakistan's main spy agency of controlling the attack.

Gen Dhillon said anyone who picked up a gun against India would be killed.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan's Foreign Minister wrote to the UN, calling on the Secretary General to rein in India and try to calm the tense situation.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said it was “with a sense of urgency that I draw your attention to the deteriorating security situation in our region resulting from the threat of use of force against Pakistan by India”.

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Any move by India to pull out of the water-sharing treaty “would be a grievous error", Mr Qureshi said.

“The UN must step in to defuse tensions," he said. "India must be asked to conduct an open and credible investigation on Pulwama incident.”

The two countries' international allies have called on them to calm the situation and rely on talks to resolve a dispute that could destabilise the region.

China's Foreign Ministry said it hoped both sides could exercise restraint and hold talks to achieve a “soft landing” in the confrontation as soon as possible.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close Pakistani ally, left Islamabad on Tuesday on his way to New Delhi.

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir said that Prince Mohammed would try to ease the tension.

Updated: February 20, 2019 09:08 AM

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