Pakistani PM willing to hold talks but warns India amid Kashmir tensions

Update: Pakistan's prime minister has offered to hold talks with India but warned New Delhi to refrain from launching any attacks on his country following last week's suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Imran Khan said he hoped "better sense" would prevail after the attack that killed at least 40 Indian troops.

But he warned in a televised speech that if India attacks, "Pakistan will not merely think of retaliation, but rather we will retaliate".

India has blamed Pakistan and threatened a "jaw-breaking response" for last Thursday's bombing, in which a militant rammed an explosive-laden van into a paramilitary bus in Kashmir.

It was the worst attack against Indian government forces in Kashmir's history.

Tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals soared following the attack.

Islamabad condemned it while also cautioning India against linking Pakistan to the bombing without an investigation.

On Monday, four Indian soldiers, three suspected militants, a police official and a civilian were killed as Indian soldiers searched for militants.

"If you have any actionable evidence, share it with us and we will take action," Mr Khan said.

We are ready to co-operate with India in the investigations.

"I hope better sense will prevail," he added.

His remarks were in response to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement that his security forces have been given "total freedom" to deal with the militants in Kashmir.

India and Pakistan each administer a part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety.

They have fought two of their three wars over it.

Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding that Kashmir be united under Pakistani rule or granted independence.

Earlier today, Pakistan said it had recalled its ambassador from India after New Delhi recalled its own envoy.

Pakistan called on the UN to help defuse tensions.

Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi sent a letter to UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres alleging that "for domestic political reasons, India has deliberately ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric against Pakistan and created a tense environment".

India's Ministry of External Affairs said it had no comment on Pakistan's letter to the UN.

A senior Indian military official in Kashmir, Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, told reporters that Indian forces had killed the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group behind Monday's gun battle and last week's suicide bombing.

The leader was a Pakistani national by the name of Kamran, Lt Gen Dhillon said.

Jaish-e-Mohammed is outlawed in Pakistan but thought to operate from safe havens there.

Pakistan did not immediately comment on Lt Gen Dhillon's remarks.

Earlier: Pakistan asks UN to help defuse tensions with India

Pakistan has recalled its ambassador from India and appealed for UN help to de-escalate tensions with New Delhi after an attack in India's sector of Kashmir that killed at least 40 Indian troops.

Tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours soared following the attack in which a militant rammed an explosive-laden van into a paramilitary bus last week.

It was the worst attack against Indian government forces in Kashmir's history.

Yesterday, four Indian soldiers, three suspected militants, a police official and a civilian were killed as Indian soldiers searched for militants.

India blamed the attack on Pakistan and promised a "jaw-breaking response", while Pakistan warned India against linking it to the attack without an investigation.

According to a statement, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres alleging that "for domestic political reasons, India has deliberately ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric against Pakistan and created a tense environment".

Also, Pakistani ambassador Suhail Mahmood was asked on Monday to return home from India, after New Delhi recalled its own envoy from Islamabad.

"It is with a sense of urgency that I draw your attention to the deteriorating security situation in our region resulting from the threat of use of force against Pakistan by India," Mr Qureshi said.

There were expectations that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who concluded a two-day visit to Pakistan on Monday and travelled on to India, could encourage the neighbours to try to resolve their issues through talks.

India and Pakistan each administer a part of Kashmir, but both claim the territory in its entirety. They have fought two of their three wars over it.

Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Indian-controlled Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or established as an independent country

PA

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