In what may further escalate tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said his country will retaliate if India launches military strikes in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. Accusing India of playing judge and jury, Khan said New Delhi had blamed the attack on Islamabad “without any proof”. The address comes a day after his government shot off a letter to the UN, seeking its urgent investment to defuse tensions with India despite New repeatedly refusing third-party negotiations on the Kashmir issue in keeping with the Simla Accord.
In the aftermath of the attack, India has revoked the most favoured nation status it had accorded to Pakistan unilaterally 23 years ago to further restrict trade between the two nations and the government has also raised the custom duties on imports from Pakistan to 200 per cent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised that Pakistan will have to pay a price for the attack and warned that security forces have been given full freedom to retaliate. The government is also in talks with the United States to push for the designation of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorists, but its efforts have not borne any fruits because of resistance from China. In efforts to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, the ministry of external affairs also met envoys of 25 nations in the capital to present its case on Pakistan’s hand in the Pulwama terror strike.