Govt unmoved by Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s speech, face-off could escalate – Times of India

By on February 27, 2019
NEW DELHI: Unmoved by Pakistan PM Imran Khan‘s overture for talks, which he couched with the risk of nuclear escalation, India said Wednesday’s aerial battle along the LoC was an act of aggression, raising the prospects of a fresh escalation. Highlighting this, New Delhi issued a demarche to acting Pakistan high commissioner Syed Haidar Shah.

India’s submission, which came even as PM Narendra Modi held discussions with three service chiefs, raises the possibility of retaliatory action against what India said was an “unprovoked act of aggression, including violation of Indian air space by the Pakistan Air Force and targeting of Indian military posts”.

In response to Khan’s talks offer, high commissioner Shah was given a dossier with what India said were “specific details and JeM complicity in the Pulwama attack and presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan”.

Khan’s long statement, in which he dwelled on the dangers of miscalculation, said he recognised the hurt caused by the Pulwama attack and said he is ready for any kind of dialogue on terrorism. “But I would like to tell you again, that right now, better sense should prevail. We should sit down and talk about our problems,” he said.

India expressed regret at Pakistan’s continuing denial of terrorist infrastructure by its political and military leaders.

The view in the Indian leadership seemed to be that Khan’s remarks are a ruse to secure de-escalation without any significant concessions and that Pakistan’s bid to establish some equivalence through its LoC raid needs to be responded to firmly without handing out any fig leaves to Islamabad.

Pakistan’s claim that the foray of its jets at the LoC was only to signal its capacity to retaliate to the IAF strike on Balakot, and Khan’s warning that miscalculations could leave neither him or Modi in control of events, did not wash with India which said the two incidents are not comparable.

The Indian demarche said the Pakistani “aggression” is in contrast to India’s ‘non-military pre-emptive’ strike at a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp on Tuesday. “It is clearly conveyed that India reserves the right to take firm and decisive action to protect its national integrity against any act of aggression or cross-border terrorism,” he said.

While any retaliation – and consequent escalation – is not ruled out, it is clear that a pledge to discuss terrorism is not likely to be sufficient for a reduction in tensions. The Indian position was clearly outlined by a call for immediate and verifiable action against terrorism sourced from territory under Pakistan’s control.

The reiteration that India will respond to terrorism sourced from Pakistan is seen as India’s answer to Khan’s speech where his reason for Pakistan air force action was that its sole purpose was to convey that “if you can come into our country, we can do the same”.

India said Pakistan’s jets were targeting military posts, particularly ammunition dumps.

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Govt unmoved by Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s speech, face-off could escalate – Times of India
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