Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan mentioned he fears additional army hostilities with New Delhi within the run-up to nationwide elections, describing India as gripped with “conflict hysteria” following probably the most severe battle between the nuclear-armed neighbours in many years.
“I’m nonetheless apprehensive earlier than the elections, I really feel that one thing may occur,” Mr Khan advised the Monetary Instances in an interview in his workplace in Islamabad.
The previous cricketer rejected claims that Pakistan had hyperlinks to Jaish-e-Mohammad, the phobia group that launched a lethal assault on an Indian paramilitary police convoy within the Kashmir area final month. Mr Khan forged Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, because the aggressor for launching a subsequent missile strike that introduced the 2 nations near conflict.
But at the same time as he denied culpability, Mr Khan, who got here to energy in August, insisted that there was no place for terrorists in his “new Pakistan”, claiming that he was conducting probably the most severe crackdown on jihadis within the nation’s historical past. “We’re already cracking down on them, we’re already dismantling the entire arrange,” he mentioned. “What is occurring proper now has by no means occurred earlier than in Pakistan.”
Pakistan and India narrowly prevented a full blown battle following the February 14 suicide bombing that killed greater than 40 Indian paramilitary police. New Delhi broke its long-held coverage of strategic restraint and launched an air strike on an alleged terror coaching camp inside Pakistani territory. Islamabad responded with air strikes on Indian army installations close to the de facto border and shot down an Indian warplane, capturing a pilot after the aerial skirmishes.
Safety analysts mentioned the disaster was a textbook state of affairs of how a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan may start, although fears that the hostilities would spiral uncontrolled have been eased after Islamabad returned the pilot inside days.
Since then, Mr Modi has campaigned throughout the nation addressing crowds with militaristic fervour, threatening on Twitter that his “new India” would give “a befitting reply to those that disturb the environment of peace”.
Indian tv channels have additionally ratcheted up the nationalist rhetoric, prompting Islamabad to accuse the ruling Bharatiya Janata celebration of utilizing the battle to win over voters forward of polls in April.
“When Pulwama [the suicide attack in Kashmir] occurred I felt that Mr Modi’s authorities used that to construct this conflict hysteria,” mentioned Mr Khan, holding prayer beads in his left hand. “The Indian public ought to realise that that is all for profitable the elections, it’s nothing to do with the actual problems with the subcontinent.”
Mr Khan redirected blame for the lethal assault to what he referred to as Mr Modi’s “anti-Muslim” authorities and its heavy-handed insurance policies in Indian-administered Kashmir, the divided Muslim-majority province that either side declare as their very own.
“There’s Jaish-e-Mohammad in India, the boy who blew himself up, the 19-year-old boy, was a Kashmiri-Indian boy,” mentioned Mr Khan. “His dad and mom mentioned how he was radicalised by some abuse by the safety power, so it was an Indian boy, Indian operation, Indian automotive, Indian explosive. Why was Pakistan blamed?”
However Mr Khan acknowledged that Pakistan may not permit terror teams to organise with impunity on its soil. “We can not take the stance any extra the place you’ve these armed teams in our nation,” he mentioned. “We will’t afford being blamed for any terrorist exercise, like Pulwama, like what occurred.”