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India today hit out at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan over his statement on the Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber, and said he should "stop misleading the world" and take "credible and visible action" against terror masterminds operating from its soil.
New Delhi also ripped into Imran Khan's insinuation that India's attacks on Pakistan were linked to the election ahead. "It is regrettable that the Pakistani Prime Minister has insinuated that India's response to the terrorist attack is determined by the forthcoming General Election. India rejects this false allegation. India's democracy is a model for the world which Pakistan would never understand," said a foreign ministry statement.
The government also dismissed as a "lame excuse" Imran Khan's "offer" to investigate, "if given proof", the role of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
"Disclaiming any link between the terrorist attack and Pakistan is an oft-repeated excuse by Pakistan. The Pakistani Prime Minister has ignored claims made by the Jaish-e-Mohammad, as well as by the terrorist, who perpetrated this heinous crime. 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," said the statement.
On Imran Khan's call for proof, the government said: "In the horrific attack in Mumbai on 26/11, proof was provided to Pakistan. Despite this, the case has not progressed for the last more than 10 years. Likewise, on the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, there has been no progress. Promises of "guaranteed action" ring hollow, given the track record of Pakistan."
New Delhi has repeatedly furnished dossiers detailing terrorists behind attacks in India and evidence against them, without any action from Pakistan. Terrorists like Masood Azhar and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed roam freely in Pakistan.
Referring to the cricketer-turned-politician's pet theme of "Naya (new) Pakistan", India said ministers of the current government publicly shared platforms with terrorists like Hafeez Saeed, who had been proscribed by the UN.
Earlier today, Imran Khan said Pakistan would retaliate if India attacked. "All this 'attack Pakistan' talk is all keeping elections in mind. But if at all these are serious, please make note of one thing clearly - Pakistan will not think of retaliating, it will retaliate," he said in his first statement on the worst-ever terror strike on security forces in Kashmir.
"There will be no other option left with Pakistan," he added in the video message.
India pointed out that the Pakistan PM had neither condemned the attack nor condoled the deaths of the soldiers.
Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack carried out by a 19-year-old school dropout who joined the outfit last year. The Jaish is believed to have strong support from the Pakistani army and Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI.
After the terror attack, India urged the United Nations to brand Masood Azhar a global terrorist. The government also withdrew Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for Pakistan and launched diplomatic moves to work towards the country's isolation globally, meeting with the envoys of P5 countries, or the United Nations Security Council's five permanent members, US, UK, Russia, France and China.
Imran Khan said: "Pakistan is moving towards stability. Why would we do something like this? If you have any actionable intelligence that a Pakistani is involved, give it to us. I guarantee you, we will take action, not because we are under pressure, but because they are acting as enemies of Pakistan."
"India accused Pakistan without any evidence and without thinking how this (attack) would benefit us," the Pakistan PM said. "Would even a fool try to sabotage such an important visit as that of the Saudi crown prince?" he added.
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