WASHINGTON: India chose to act as the "judge, jury and executioner" by attacking Pakistan after the Pulwama terrror attack, Pakistan's envoy to the US has said as he claimed that there is no "organised presence" of any terrorist group in his country.
Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14, sparking nation-wide outrage.
After the attack, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting what it said was a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.
The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 and captured its pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
"Clearly India chose to act as judge, jury, and executioner. It followed up on this aggression by making ridiculous claims of having hit a so-called terrorist camp inside Pakistan and killing over 300 militants. These claims as you know, have been thoroughly debunked by neutral observers as well as by elements within India," ambassador Asad Majeed Khan claimed.
Khan's remarks came as the US and other major powers mounted pressure on Islamabad to rein in terror groups operating on its soil.
Responding to a question on the ongoing tension between India and Pakistan, the new Pakistani ambassador told a Washington audience on Monday that the two nuclear-armed neighbours returned "from the brink at least for now".
"I think, the situation is serious," he said.
Appearing before the US Institute of Peace, a Congress-funded think-tank, Khan alleged that there was a "marked escalation on the line of control" as soon as pilot Abhinandan was released by Pakistan and handed over to India on Friday.
While he reiterated that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's statement that the only way forward was dialogue and engagement, he gave no clear answer to India's concerns, which are supported by the international community, that Pakistan needs to take action against terrorist groups and end terror safe havens.
"There is no organised presence of any terrorist group in Pakistan," Khan claimed.
He accused India for the current crisis, claiming that such terrorism could be a result of actions by "rogue elements".
"If you basically take a position that you are going to do this, this, this, this, if this, this, this happened, you are essentially leaving the entire situation hostage to one, two or a couple of individuals who may be rogue elements acting on their own, trying to basically, create a war like situation," he said.
Khan said that within minutes of Pulwama incident, India spoke about incontrovertible evidence.
"That evidence should have been presented," he said.
Within minutes, the Indian government and the media went into an overdrive whipping up "war hysteria" against Pakistan, he alleged.
"India paid no attention to the available evidence, all of which pointed to the indigenous origin of the attack," he said.
While rejecting the Indian allegations, Prime Minister Khan offered India investigation and dialogue and promise to take action against anyone involved in the attack if India could provide credible and actionable intelligence, he said.
Ambassador Khan claimed that on February 27, Pakistan struck six times inside Kashmir purposefully avoiding civilian casualties.
"However, when two Indian aircraft violated our space, they were shot down. Our sole objective was to demonstrate that we had the right, will and capability to act in our self-defense."
"We also made it clear that we do not wish to further escalate and are ready to give dialogue a chance to resolve issues like a responsible and mature democratic nation," he said.