ISLAMABAD: On February 14, the day a young local Kashmiri carried out the deadly suicide attack targeting a convoy of Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Pulwama, Pakistan was busy in preparation for the maiden visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Concerned authorities, however, quickly realised that India was eventually going to blame Pakistan after the banned Jaish-e-Mohmamad (JeM) purportedly claimed responsibility of the worst attack in Indian Occupied Kashmir in three decades.
India has a habit of giving a knee-jerk reaction whenever an attack takes place in IOK.
“Therefore, we took no time and began our own investigations to find out if Pakistan’s soil was used in the Pulwama attack,” a credible source with the knowledge of the development told The Express Tribune.
By the time, the visit of the Saudi crown prince was over, authorities in Pakistan already completed their initial probe into the Pulwama attack.
The findings of the investigations were submitted before the National Security Committee (NSC) convened to discuss the possible fallout of the incident.
Although India accused JeM for being behind the attack and threatened retaliation against Pakistan, the probe found “no direct or indirect Pakistan link whatsoever”.
Pakistan then decided to reach out to India with an offer of “investigation it wishes to carry out from any platform”.
The message was conveyed to India that Pakistan would assist New Delhi in all possible manners in carrying out the probe.
“We were open for joint investigation, we were open for any third party investigation,” said the source, adding that India didn’t accept the olive branch since it knew it didn’t have “compelling evidence” against Pakistan.
India last week shared what it called a “dossier” regarding the involvement of JeM in the attack. Pakistan is currently examining the dossier but a source insisted that the Indian document contained “nothing” that suggested a Pakistani role.
But the source stated in categorical terms that Pakistan would act against individuals or groups if any evidence linked them with Pulwama.
Pakistan, the source said, had already stepped up action against militant groups, especially the organisations which were proscribed.
The NSC even before the Pulwama attack vowed to fully implement the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism. Pakistan was taking these steps to comply with the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“Strategic pause” in standoff
Meanwhile, tense calm prevailed along the Line of Control (LoC) in last 24 hours between Pakistan and India.
There appears to be a “strategic pause” on part of India, which may have gone back to the “drawing board” to discuss the next move.
Pakistan, through interlocutors, has conveyed to India that it didn’t want any escalation of crisis.
“The ball is in India’s court now,” said a source.
Observers, however, believe that India may still be looking to retaliate to end the current episode on a high note.
But Pakistan’s “befitting and surprise” response to India’s earlier incursion put the Modi government in a difficult situation.
Pakistan has made it clear that it will respond to any Indian aggression with a “notch higher”.
In fact, the day Pakistan Air Force shot down Indian warplanes, India was almost ready to launch a missile attack at a military installation the same evening. This was also confirmed by Prime Minister Imran Khan during the joint session of parliament.
Indian military pulled out at the last minute after realising that Pakistan was fully prepared to respond to the missile attack.
Thus Pakistan has foiled Indian aggressive designs on the military as well as diplomatic fronts while demonstrating its defence capability as well as its commitment to peace. The gesture of releasing an Indian pilot captured in Pakistani territory has been welcomed across the board and several world leaders have supported Pakistan’s peace overtures.