NEW DELHI, Oct 29: Even while claiming credit for the Imran Khan government for “giving a punch to India inside its territory,” Pakistan on Thursday gave a tacit admission that it was behind the heinous Pulwama attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.
The stunning admission came inside the Pakistan National Assembly where replying to an opposition criticism of the Imran Khan government, the federal minister Fawad Chaudhry drew the country’s attention to the Pulwama attack claiming it to be the “biggest achievement” of the present government.
Chaudhry, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Science and Technology, said, “We punched India by entering its territory. The success in Pulwama is an achievement for Prime Minister Imran Khan and the people of Pakistan,” he proudly proclaimed on the floor of the National Assembly.
Even as he later tried to wriggle out of the tangle claiming that what he referred to the Khan government’s achievement was the response it gave to India after its air attack following the Pulwama incident, his earlier admission that Pakistan had planned the Pulwama attack which was condemned the world over for state-sponsored terrorism has stuck.
On February 14, 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu and Kashmir national highway was attacked by a car-borne suicide bomber who rammed his vehicle against one of the buses carrying the CRPF personnel causing an instant explosion in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed on the spot. The incident occurred near Awantipora in Pulwama district. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The attacker, who was also killed on the spot, was later identified as Adil Ahmed Dar, a local from Pulwama and a member of the Jaish group. India had been blaming Pakistan for the attack but Pakistan so far consistently denied any involvement in it and had also condemned the attack.
Chaudhry was replying to the assertion made by Ayaz Sadiq, a leader from rival PML-N party, that the Imran Khan government had released Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman ‘out of fear’ of an Indian attack.
“I remember Shah Mahmood Qureshi was in the meeting in which Imran Khan had refused to attend and Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa came into the room, his legs were shaking and he was perspiring. Foreign Minister said for God’s sake let Abhinandan go, India’s about to attack Pakistan at 9 PM,” Sadiq had said.
Chaudhry refuted Sadiq’s claim and lamented that the opposition is making mendacious statements to slander Khan government. “Even you guys are a part of ‘quom’ that must be proud of what happened in Pulwama. But it is astonishing that you’re busy making absurd statements to undermine the incumbent government,” he said.
However, after some prompting from his party members, Chaudhry slightly, and conveniently, altered his proclamation. He recoiled for a second and in an altered proclamation said Pakistan gave a befitting reply to India ‘after’ the Pulwama incident and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) hit the enemy after entering their territory.
Facing backlash over the statement, the minister tried to clarify his statement. “What I spoke about was our post-Pulwama action. But we are not looking to stir up a war with India. It was a long speech and I have not said that Pulwama was Pakistan’s doing,” Chaudhry later claimed while giving an interview to an Indian news channel.