The Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday strongly condemned Pakistan for repeatedly denying terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s own claim of taking ownership of the Pulwama attack that left over 44 CRPF personnel dead.
Addressing the media, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar questioned whether Islamabad was defending the JeM.
“It is regrettable that Pakistan still continues to deny Jaish-e-Mohammed’s own claim of taking ownership of Pulwama attack. Pakistan Foreign Minister said ‘they(JeM) have not claimed responsibility of the attack, there is some confusion’ Is Pakistan defending the JeM?” he said.
Coming down heavily on the neighbouring country, Kumar said: “if Pakistan claims to be a ‘Naya Pakistan’ with ‘nayi soch’ then it should demonstrate ‘naya action’ against terrorist groups and cross-border terrorism in support of its claims”.
Islamabad Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had earlier in an interview to foreign media said that the JeM had not claimed responsibility of the Pulwama attack and that there was some confusion.
Later, he confirmed that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar was in Pakistan and that the government will arrest him only if India gives unalienable evidence that is acceptable in the courts of Pakistan.
However, days after his admission, the country’s military on Wednesday claimed that the terror group “does not exist” in Pakistan.
Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said the JeM claim of responsibility for the Pulwama attack had not been made from inside Pakistan.
The MEA also called upon the members of UNSC to list JeM chief Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist under the UN Sanctions Committee.
The US, the UK and France had earlier moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Pakistan-based terror group JeM’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.
Speaking on the aerial combat between Indian and Pakistani fighters jets on February 27, the MEA spokesperson said there were eyewitness accounts and electronic evidence that Pakistan had deployed F-16 aircraft in the recent confrontation with India and that one F-16 was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
He further said that India has asked the US to also examine whether the use of F-16 against India is in accordance with the terms and conditions of sale.
According to reports, India gave proof to the US about the use of F-16 fighters and AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile by Pakistan during its unsuccessful aerial raid targeting four Indian military installations on February 27.
The IAF on February 28 displayed a piece of an AMRAAM missile which landed in an Indian military compound when Pakistan launched an attack along the LoC. Of the jets in Pakistan’s arsenal, the AMRAAM can be used only with F-16. The IAF also said it identified F-16s operating there through their electronic signatures.
Pakistan has categorically said that no F-16 fighter jets were used in the aerial combat against India.
The MEA spokesperson also challenged the Pakistan government to share the video recording of the downing of a second Indian aircraft, as it had claimed earlier.
The Ministry of External Affairs further made it clear that holding Kartarpur Corridor talks did not mean the resumption of bilateral ties. “This is related to the emotions and sentiments of our Indian citizens of Sikh faith,” Kumar said.
After the Pulwama terror attack, India on February 26 carried out “non-military pre-emptive” airstrikes targeting the JeM training camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80-km from the Line of Control (LoC), reportedly killing a “very large number” of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders.