Pakistan has finally got entangled in its own web of deceit. A senior Pakistan Minister – who happens to be close to Prime Minister Imran Khan – has wittingly or unwittingly admitted to the fact that Pakistan was responsible for the Pulwama terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 CRPF personnel and brought the two countries to the brink of war.
The sensational claim, which is a virtual admission by a rogue nation of its own guilt, came when Science & Technology Minister Fawad Choudhary declared on the floor of the national assembly: "Humne Hindustan ko ghus ke maara tha.’’
Not just that, he also called upon the Pakistani leaders to celebrate the attack. ‘‘Our success in Pulwama is a success of this nation under the leadership of Imran Khan. You and us are all part of that success," Chaudhry boasted – nay gloated -- in the National Assembly during a debate.
After a convoy of vehicles carrying Indian security personnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was blown away by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber on February 14 last year, Pakistan had condemned the attack and denied any connection to it.
India had, of course, always blamed Pakistan for orchestrating the attack, the responsibility for which was claimed by the terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
But Chaudhry has nailed his prime minister’s lie that terror is not an instrument of State policy and that it was not in the country's interest to provide safe haven to terrorists. Khan also had the audacity to ask India for "proof" of Pakistani involvement.
Khan had then given the skewed reasoning that although Jaish is based in Pakistan, it also has a presence in Kashmir, and thus the attack is an "indigenous thing" that happened in India. "A Kashmiri boy was radicalised after the brutalities of the Indian security forces and he carried out the attack, but suddenly Pakistan came into the limelight," Khan had said.
In the light of the confession by its Federal Minister, Pakistan cannot even keep up the pretence that the insurgency in Kashmir Valley is a ‘home-spun’ movement. The optics of it are likely to figure in global fora at a time Pakistan is desperately trying to keep itself off the FATF blacklist, which would lead to a multilateral fund squeeze.
The comments are also a major embarrassment for some of the Opposition parties which had suggested by innuendo that the Pulwama strike was scripted by the Indian intelligence agencies.
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Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s statement in the National Assembly was in response to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Ayaz Sadiq’s statement that ‘‘legs were shaking in a top leaders’ meeting,’’ when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi pleaded that the captive IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman be released.
"Legs were shaking and forehead was perspiring, and the foreign minister (Qureshi) told us, ‘For God's sake, let him (Varthaman) go back because India is attacking Pakistan at 9 PM in the night'’’ Sadiq said, recounting the episode in the high-level meeting which was also attended by Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
However, Sadiq did not say whether he was referring to Gen. Bajwa or foreign minister Qureshi ‘whose legs were shaking and forehead perspiring’.
The 37-year-old IAF pilot was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his jet was brought down in aerial combat. Before his jet was hit, Abhinandan had downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. He was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan.
Sadiq revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had skipped the high-level meeting. He also says that it is his understanding that India was not planning to attack. ‘‘Rather, they – the Pakistan top leadership -- just wanted to kneel before India and send back Abhinandan."
Sadiq said that he tries not to desist from making personal attacks but "when those in power refer to us as thieves or "Modi ka yaar" (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pal), we will have to respond”.
As the statement sparked an uproar in the assembly, he appeared to change tack, rephrasing his line as: "Pulwama ke waqiyeh ke baad, jab humne India ko ghus ke maara (When we hit India in their home after the incident at Pulwama)". Later in a tweet, he said, he was referring to "when our planes targeted combat installations".