South Asian Insider
Pakistan has shown no interest in addressing terror concerns
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chose to talk about the brazen suicide attack at Pulwama only five days after the assault claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, attributing the timing to his country's preoccupation with a crucial visit by the Saudi crown prince. Mr Khan then trotted out his country's stock offer of assisting in the investigation into the attack, taking action on the condition that India provides actionable intelligence, even holding talks on terrorism. He also called for introspection in India on the Kashmir issue and concluded his brief pre-recorded address by warning Pakistan would have no option but to retaliate if India carries out any attacks over the Pulwama attack. Equally important was what he didn't say - there was no condemnation of the attack or a mention of Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose top leadership, including its founder Masood Azhar, is based in Pakistan. That his speech was greeted with scepticism in official quarters in New Delhi was hardly surprising. The Indian government hasn't forgotten what emerged from Pakistan's previous offers to help investigate the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2016 assault on Pathankot airbase, which too was blamed on Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Mr Khan's supporters could say he was not in power when those attacks occurred, but they will do well to remember Mr Khan has shown no alacrity in getting things moving in the investigations into these attacks or the prosecution of the seven men arrested for the Mumbai carnage.
It is understandable that the external affairs ministry dismissed Mr Khan's offer of assistance by saying there is already sufficient evidence for Pakistan to act and his pledges of action ring hollow in light of Islamabad's track record. Clearly, Mr Khan's advisors didn't give much thought to preparations for his address as it didn't touch on most of India's stated concerns. Mr Khan's course of action appears half-hearted, given that his predecessor Nawaz Sharif at least resorted to the usual Pakistani ploy of placing Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar under "protective custody" for some months after the Pathankot attack. Pakistan should note moves by Western powers to keep up the pressure on terror groups and terrorist financing as well as mounting domestic pressure on the Indian government to respond in some way to the Pulwama attack. Given all the talk from Islamabad of Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa desiring normal relations with India, and the civilian government and military establishment being on the same page - something Mr Khan never fails to reiterate when talking about ties with India - Pakistan should start walking the talk before it is too late.
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