- Pak's Shah Mehmood Qureshi was left visibly unsettled in an interview
- He fell just short of admitting Pak was in touch with Jaish's leadership
- Jaish leadership denied responsibility for the Pulwama attack, he added
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was left visibly unsettled in an interview, as he fell just short of admitting that his government was in touch with the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed's leadership. A BBC interviewer's follow-up query on who contacted the terror group after the Pulwama terror attack stumped the minister, who first fumbled, then tried to salvage the situation with a vague reply.
Referring to the escalation between India and Pakistan, the interviewer asked the minister about the current India-Pakistan crisis that began with the attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama which left 40 paramilitary troops dead. The Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack on its official channels, the interviewer said. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, however, interrupted him: "We are not sure of that."
"You are not sure Jaish-e-Mohammed is not based in Pakistan?... They have claimed responsibility for the attack," the interviewer asked.
"They have not... There is confusion on that. The confusion is (that) the leadership (of JeM) when contacted, said no," Mr Qureshi replied.
"Contacted by who?" the interviewer asked Mr Qureshi. It is at this point when the Pakistani foreign minister gets uncomfortable.
"By...by....you know...by people over here...they say...they denied...they denied that...That's the confusion," Mr Qureshi was found searching for words.
"The people...the people who are known to them. They...they claim no responsibility," he added.
After the attack that killed 40 men of the Central Reserve Police Force last month, Indian jets destroyed a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistani's Balakot last Tuesday.
A day later, Pakistan responded to the non-military strike on a terrorist target by sending warplanes to attack Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir resulting in the first air battle between the two countries since the 1971 war. In the showdown, both the countries lost a jet each. An Indian pilot, who was captured by Pakistan, was released on Friday.
Pakistan, which is pressing for dialogue, has said that it would act on any actionable intelligence. On Saturday, Mr Qureshi reiterated the promise previously made by his Prime Minister, Imran Khan. "India submitted its dossier..., if India wants to conduct talks on this, then we are ready for it," he said.
"We will not allow Pakistani soil to be used by any group or any organisation for terrorist activities against any state, including India," Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, adding that forces had taken control of the "so-called nerve centres" of the terror group.