Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come under attack from a united Opposition after a scathing report in a Pakistan online newspaper claimed that "India used the Pathankot attack as a tool to expand its vicious propaganda against Pakistan without having any solid evidence to back the claim”. The paper based the allegation on findings by the Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that came to India to probe the terrorist strike at the airbase.
Pakistan Today claimed quoting sources that the Indian government did not cooperate with the probe team.
"The report also raises serious questions over the veracity of Indian claims regarding the Pathankot attack. The JIT has concluded that contrary to the claims of the Indian government about the duration of the encounter, the standoff between the Indian army and alleged terrorists ended within hours of the attack,” the report said.
It accused India of staging the attack to malign Pakistan.
Opposition parties launched a scathing attack on Modi who was instrumental in inviting the Pakistan team.
"Did Modiji invite the Pakistani JIT so that they could insult the memory of our brave martyrs," the Congress tweeted. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the "invitation" amounted to giving a "clean chit" to the ISI for the terror attack in January.
Kejriwal also demanded that Modi tender an "apology" for the "monumental" foreign policy failure. An ISI official was part of the five-member JIT that was in India last week. JD-U said the claim by an unnamed JIT member quoted in the media reports was a "slap" on the face the country for which the Modi government is responsible.
BJP hit back at Kejriwal by saying that his attack was "shameful". Congress demanded an apology from BJP chief Amit Shah for "having distributed certificates of sincerity to Pakistan" in the light of the Pakistani media reports.
The JIT source told Pakistan Today that Indian claims about the entry from the Pakistani side were "unsupported".
Congress' communication department chief Randeep Surjewala said, "it is now clear that neither has Modiji's rhetoric of 56 inches chest or showing red eyes to Pakistan and China paid off nor has his sudden visit to Pakistan and attending feasts and marriage parties with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had any effect."
It is now clear that neither has Modiji's rhetoric of 56 inches chest or showing red eyes to Pakistan and China paid off nor has his sudden visit to Pakistan and attending feasts and marriage parties with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had any effect.
Surjewala said the prime minister should "rise over theatrics" and take diplomacy seriously, which the country expects as 125 crore people of India are feeling "betrayed" by Modi.
He, however, said the reports once again exposed the "doubled-faced" policy of Pakistan in dealing with terrorism.
Alleging that the development has caused "national embarrassment", senior party spokesperson Anand Sharma said Congress had "cautioned" the Prime Minister and the government about the JIT which also had a representative from ISI.
"A diplomatic crime has been committed. This has caused national embarrassment. BJP chief Amit Shah, who lacks any comprehension of the complex issue and gravitas of foreign policy, was distributing certificates of sincerity to Pakistan in the Pathankot matter. He should apologise to the people," Sharma said.
The Centre's decision to invite a Pakistani JIT to probe the Pathankot airbase attack was a "monumental failure" and a "stab" in the back of "Bharat Mata", Kejriwal told reporters.
He alleged that Modi had entered into a deal with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif during his Lahore visit in December last year, and sought to know its details "in the country's interest".
"The Prime Minister called over ISI officials despite being aware that it was behind the Pathankot terror attack which amounted to a clean chit. Now the JIT has reportedly claimed that India had itself staged the attack. No prime minister has capitulated before Pakistan the way Modi ji has."
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the 125 crore people of India will never forgive Kapil Mishra for calling the Prime Minister an "ISI agent".
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu termed the "stage managed" theory propagated by Pakistan as its "regular drama" as done by it in the past, but called for dialogue as the way forward.
Pakistan should once and for all decide on whether to have a policy of aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorism. This is a fact.
"Pakistan should once and for all decide on whether to have a policy of aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorism. This is a fact. India and Pakistan are neighbours. We want to have friendly relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan. Earlier we were together. Keeping that in mind, the responsibility lies with Pakistan to create a conducive atmosphere to move forward," he said, adding, dialogue is the way forward and the process must be exhausted to see what can happen.
Naidu also claimed Pakistan is "under pressure" from some "extremist groups" in their country and that is why they are taking this particular line. "I hope it will rethink," he said, adding, nobody including Pakistanis would believe on Pak's claim that Pathankot was 'stage managed' by India".
He, however, said there is an "overwhelming" public opinion to have good relations between both the countries.
(Inputs from PTI)
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