India's PM Modi warns Pakistan of strong
response to Kashmir attack
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[February 15, 2019]
By Fayaz Bukhari and Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR (Reuters) - India's
Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned Pakistan on Friday to expect a
strong response to a bomb attack in the disputed region of Kashmir that
killed 44 paramilitary policemen, ratcheting up tension between the
The car bomb attack on a security convoy on Thursday was the worst in
decades of insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority
(Graphic: Suicide car bomber kills 44 policemen in Kashmir - https://tmsnrt.rs/2TM34k8)
"We will give a befitting reply, our neighbor will not be allowed to
de-stabilize us," Modi said in a speech, after meeting security advisers
to discuss options.
The attack comes months before an Indian general election.
The Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)
claimed responsibility soon after a suicide bomber rammed a
explosives-laden car into a bus carrying police personnel.
India has for years accused Muslim Pakistan of backing separatist
militants in divided Kashmir, which the neighbors both claim in full but
rule in part.
Pakistan denies that, saying it only offers political support to the
Himalayan region's suppressed Muslim people.
The White House urged Pakistan in a statement "to end immediately the
support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its
India said it had "incontrovertible evidence" of Pakistani involvement
in the attack. The Pakistan government responded with a stiff denial,
calling the attack a matter of "grave concern."
As outrage and demands for revenge flooded Indian social media, Arun
Jaitley, one of the most senior figures in the Hindu nationalist-led
government, told reporters India would work to ensure the "complete
isolation" of Pakistan.
The first step, he said, would include removing most favored nation (MFN)
trade privileges that had been accorded to Pakistan - though annual
bilateral trade between the countries is barely $2 billion.
The last major attack in Kashmir was in 2016 when Jaish militants raided
an Indian army camp, killing 20 soldiers. Weeks later, Modi ordered a
surgical strike on suspected militant camps across the border in
When he swept to power in 2014, Modi vowed to pursue a tough line with
mostly Pakistan. The two countries have gone to war three times since
independence from Britain in 1947, twice over Kashmir.
The Line of Control, the de facto border dividing Indian- and
Pakistani-held Kashmir, is widely regarded as one of the world's most
dangerous flashpoints, especially after the two countries became nuclear
armed states in 1998.
CALLS FOR REVENGE
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale summoned Pakistan's ambassador,
Sohail Mahmood, and issued a demarche demanding Pakistan take verifiable
action against the Jaish.
[to top of second column]
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with the media inside
the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session, in
New Delhi, India, December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo
Crowds gathered in Jammu, the Hindu-dominated part of Jammu and
Kashmir state, demanding stronger action against Pakistan.
A curfew was briefly imposed in Jammu after crowds overturned and
set fire to some vehicles. Protesters were also marching to the
Pakistani embassy in New Delhi.
The attack comes at a difficult time for Pakistan, which is
struggling to attract foreign investment and avert a payments
crisis, with its swiftly diminishing foreign currency reserves at
less than $8 billion, equivalent to two months of import payments.
The escalating tension risks overshadowing a visit to the region by
the Saudi crown prince, who is due in Islamabad over the weekend and
New Delhi next week, with both governments hoping to attract Saudi
India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh flew into Srinagar, the main
city in Indian Kashmir, and joined mourners carrying the coffins of
the dead policemen, before they were sent to their homes across
Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops are deployed in Kashmir.
The separatist insurgency has waxed and waned since the late 1980s,
but began to pick up in the last five years as a fresh generation of
Kashmiris was drawn to militancy.
Soon after Thursday's attack, Jaish released photographs and a video
of a young Kashmiri villager, Adil Ahmad Dar, who it said had
carried out the suicide attack on the convoy.
In the video, Dar warned of more attacks to avenge human rights
violations in Kashmir. On Friday, hundreds of people gathered at his
village of Lethipora to mourn his death.
Jaish is one of the most deadly groups operating in Kashmir.
In 2001, it mounted an attack on the parliament in New Delhi that
brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.
Indian efforts to add Jaish leader Masood Azhar to a U.N. Security
Council blacklist of al Qaeda-linked terrorists have been blocked by
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed “deep
shock” at the latest attack.
China resolutely opposed and strongly condemned all terrorism and
hoped “relevant countries in the region” could cooperate to combat
the threat, he told reporters.
(Additional reporting by Manoj Kumar and Neha Dasgupta; Editing by
Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel)
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