(CNSNews.com) – The Indian government dismissed as a “lame excuse” an offer by Pakistan’s prime minister to investigate the deadliest terror attack in Kashmir in decades if India provides “actionable” proof. New Delhi charged that Pakistan has for years done little in response to previous attacks from its soil, despite evidence supplied by India.
Forty Indian police reservists were killed in a suicide car bomb attack last Thursday in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir. The Pakistan-based jihadist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility.
Amid Indian threats to strike back after yet another terror attack launched from Pakistani territory, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a televised statement Tuesday urged India to share any “actionable intelligence” it may have.
India must “stop blaming Pakistan without any proof or evidence,” said Khan, vowing that Pakistan would retaliate in the event of any Indian attack.
In response, India’s foreign ministry pointed out that India has waited in vain for more than a decade for progress in the investigation into the 2008 Mumbai attack, despite having handed over evidence implicating Pakistan-based terrorists.
Likewise, it said, no progress has been made into Pakistan’s investigation into a 2016 attack on India’s Pathankot air base near Kashmir, which left seven Indian personnel dead.
“Promises of ‘guaranteed action’ ring hollow given the track record of Pakistan,” the ministry said.
“It is a well-known fact that Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Masood Azhar are based in Pakistan. These should be sufficient proof for Pakistan to take action.”
While Pakistan claims to be the greatest victim of terrorism, the ministry said, “the international community is well acquainted with the reality that Pakistan is the nerve center of terrorism.”
Despite calls by India and the U.S., successive Pakistani governments stand accused of failing to rein in terrorists, including al-Qaeda-linked, U.S.-designated groups like JeM, the Haqqani network, and Lashkar e-Toiba (LeT).
Khan came to power last year pledging a “Naya Pakistan” (“New Pakistan”). But critics say he has proven no more effective at cracking down on terrorists than predecessors like Yousaf Raza Gillani and Nawaz Sharif, who were office during the Mumbai and Pathankot attacks respectively.
Taking a dig at Khan’s “New Pakistan” rhetoric, the Indian ministry said that “in this ‘Naya Pakistan,’ ministers of the current government publicly share platforms with terrorists like Hafiz Saeed who have been proscribed by the United Nations.”
Saeed is the founder of LeT, the terrorist group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks which cost the lives of 166 people, including six Americans.
Just two months ago, a member of Khan’s cabinet was caught on camera voicing support for Saeed, who is the subject of a $10 million U.S. reward offer but – like Masood Azhar – operates freely in Pakistan.
Islamabad’s failure to act against terrorists based on its territory prompted the Trump administration last year to withhold and subsequently redirect $300 million in military aid.
(Since 9/11, U.S. taxpayers have contributed some $34 billion to Pakistan, including $14.5 billion in “Coalition Support Funds,” which reimburse the costs of counterterrorism efforts.)
State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said Wednesday the U.S. has been in contact with Pakistan over the latest attack, and that all countries should uphold their responsibilities under U.N. Security Council resolutions “to deny safe haven and support for terrorists.”
The U.N. Security Council al-Qaeda sanctions list includes JeM, but not its leader Azhar. When the U.S., backed by Britain and France, sought to have Azhar listed in 2017, China – a longstanding ally of Pakistan – blocked the move.
China’s foreign minister later sought to justify that stance by saying there was no “consensus” since Pakistan and India did not see eye-to-eye over the issue.
A fresh attempt to have Azhar blacklisted is reportedly under consideration at the Security Council.
Azhar is a veteran Pakistani terrorist who was imprisoned in India for terror activities in the 1990s, but in 1999 he was freed in return for 155 hostages after supporters including his brother hijacked an Indian Airlines plane and flew it to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
After his release he founded JeM, which was soon carrying out major terror attacks against Indian targets including the national parliament, a legislative assembly in Kashmir, and an air force base.
Kashmir is a Himalayan territory claimed by both India and Pakistan, and divided between the two (with China also controlling a small portion). India and Pakistan have fought four wars since independence from Britain in 1947, three of them over Kashmir.