Asia-Pacific News

Pakistani PM says he's willing to talk but warns India

Key Points
  • Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan offered to hold talks with India on Tuesday. 
  • However, he warned that the nation would retaliate to any attacks from New Delhi.
  • His speech came after last week's suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed at least 40 Indian troops.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses his nation on July 26, 2018.
Muhhamad Reza | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said Tuesday he hopes "better sense" will prevail and offered to hold talks with India even as he warned New Delhi to refrain from launching any attacks on Pakistan following last week's suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed at least 40 Indian troops.

Khan said in a televised speech that, should there be an attack from India, "Pakistan will not merely think of retaliation, but rather, we will retaliate."

New Delhi has blamed Islamabad and threatened a "jaw-breaking response" for the attack last Thursday in Kashmir in which a militant rammed an explosive-laden van into a paramilitary bus. It was the worst attack against Indian government forces in Kashmir's history.

Tensions between Pakistan and India soared following the attack, which Islamabad condemned while also cautioning India against linking it to the bombing without an investigation. On Monday, four Indian soldiers, three suspected militants, a police official and a civilian were killed as Indian soldiers searched for militants.

"I have an offer for the Indian government, if you have any actionable evidence, share it with us and we will take action," Khan said. "We are ready to cooperate with India in the investigations."

"I hope better sense will prevail," Khan added.

His remarks were in response to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement that his government forces have been "given total freedom" to deal with the militants In Kashmir.

India and Pakistan each administer a part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. They have fought two of their three wars over it.

Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Indian-controlled Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or established as an independent country.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan's foreign ministry said it recalled its ambassador from India and appealed for UN help to de-escalate and defuse tensions with New Delhi after the Kashmir attack.

According to the statement, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres alleging that "for domestic political reasons, India has deliberately ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric against Pakistan and created a tense environment."

Also, Pakistani Ambassador Suhail Mahmood was asked to return home from India, after New Delhi recalled its own envoy from Islamabad.

"It is 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," Qureshi said in his letter.

There were expectations that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who concluded a two-day visit to Pakistan on Monday and travelled on to India, could encourage the two South Asian neighbors to try to resolve their issues through talks.

India's Ministry of External Affairs said it had no comment on Pakistan's letter to the UN.

Meanwhile, a senior Indian military official in Kashmir, Lt. Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, on Tuesday told reporters in Srinagar, the main city of Indian-held Kashmir, that Indian forces there have killed the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group behind Monday's gunbattle and last week's suicide bombing.

The leader was a Pakistani national by the name of Kamran, Dhillon said.

Jaish-e-Mohammed is outlawed in Pakistan but thought to operate from safe havens there.

The Indian military and Pakistan did not immediately comment on Dhillon's statement.