India on Tuesday rubbished Prime Minister Imran Khan's comments on the ghastly Pulwama attack, saying disclaiming Pakistan's link with terrorist attacks is an oft-repeated excuse by the 'nerve centre' of terrorism.
India's seven-point hard hitting response came hours after Khan said he would act against the perpetrators of the Pulwama attack if India shares 'actionable intelligence', but warned against any retaliatory action.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said India was not surprised that Khan refused to acknowledge the attack on India's security forces in Pulwama as an act of terrorism, adding his offer to investigate the attack if provided proof is a 'lame excuse'.
"Disclaiming any link between the terrorist attack and Pakistan is an oft-repeated excuse by Pakistan.
"The Pakistani prime minister has ignored claims made by the Jaish-e-Mohammad, as well as by the terrorist, who perpetrated this heinous crime," the Ministry of External Affairs said.
"It is a well-known fact that Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Masood Azhar are based in Pakistan. These should be sufficient proof for Pakistan to take action," it said.
At a Cabinet briefing on Tuesday evening, Union minister Arun Jaitley hit out at Khan for not making even a 'pretext' of outright condemnation of the Pulwama attack and showing not even 'lip sympathy' for the bereaved families.
Days after the terror strike by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group killing 41 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said security forces have been given free hand to avenge the dastardly act.
In a video message, Khan responded to the Indian allegations on Pakistan's involvement in the attack in Kashmir last on Thursday.
"The prime minister of Pakistan has offered to investigate the matter if India provides proof. This is a lame excuse. In the horrific attack in Mumbai on 26/11, proof was provided to Pakistan. Despite this, the case has not progressed for the last more than 10 years," the MEA said.
Likewise, on the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, the MEA said, there has been no progress.
"Promises of 'guaranteed action' ring hollow given the track record of Pakistan," the MEA said.
Jaitley mocked Khan's demand for actionable intelligence from India, saying JeM has publicly acknowledged its hand behind the attack, adding India had provided the neighbouring country evidence and intelligence related to the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
"We know its fate," Jaitley said referring to lack of any concrete action from Pakistan against the terror group and its handlers involved in the attack. He dismissed Khan's statement as a diversionary tactic.
The MEA said Pakistan claimed to be the greatest victim of terrorism but this is far from truth.
"The international community is well acquainted with the reality that Pakistan is the nerve centre of terrorism," the MEA said.
It also came down hard on the Pakistan prime minister for his comments linking India's upcoming general elections to the narrative of blaming Pakistan. He said it would make it easier to get votes from the masses.
"It is regrettable that the Pakistani Prime Minister has insinuated that India's response to the terrorist attack is determined by the forthcoming general election," the MEA said.
Rejecting the 'false allegation', the MEA said India's democracy was a model for the world which Pakistan would never understand.
"We demand Pakistan to stop misleading the international community and take credible and visible action against the perpetrators of Pulwama terrorist attack and other terrorists and terror groups operating from areas under their control," it said.
On Khan's reference to build a new Pakistan, the MEA said, "In this 'Naya Pakistan,' ministers of the current government publicly share platforms with terrorists like Hafeez Saeed who have been proscribed by the United Nations."
"Pakistan's Prime Minister has called for dialogue and expressed his readiness to talk about terrorism. India has repeatedly stated that it is ready to engage in a comprehensive bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence," the MEA said.
Reacting to Khan's message, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it was India which has been providing evidence but the neighbouring country has not taken any action on it.
"Since the Mumbai attacks, not just this government, the earlier government also had sent dossiers after dossiers, evidence after evidence, what action has Pakistan taken on them?" she asked.
Also, at every level India has been following the process of law and the Mumbai attackers had been brought to book and punished by court of law, she told a press conference in Bengaluru.
"In Pakistan not even the first court is doing its job. There is nothing for Pakistan to show," she added.
Sitharaman said she would not want to say how the government was going to respond to it as no word is sufficient enough to assuage the anger and disappointment of every person of the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already allowed the Indian Army to respond at any given time and as they see fit, Sitharaman said.
On the defence forces morale following the Pulwama terror attack, Sitharaman said "The morale is not affected at all, they are absolutely ready to do their job."
"The response the people of India have shown, has brought greater motivation to them," she said.
Asked what the government is doing to avoid a repeat of Pulwama type attacks, Sitharaman said India was gathering more information to prevent any such incidents in future.
"The security agencies are working tirelessly to gather more information from the ground. Every effort will be taken to prevent any future incidents such as Pulwama Terror attack," she said.
Meanwhile, Khan's message was met with skepticism by political parties which said it is time for him to 'walk the talk' on terrorism.
While senior Congress leader and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh asked what proof was Khan talking about and whether India should send the bodies of the soldiers killed in the attack last week, People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said Pakistan was not being blamed without any evidence.
Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said security agencies have 'strong evidence' on Pakistan's involvement in the Pulwama attack and this has been clearly conveyed to the neighbouring country.
The assertions by leaders across the political spectrum also came on a day when General Officer Commanding of Army's Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt General K J S Dhillon said the Pakistan Army and its espionage agency Inter-Services Intelligence were involved in the car bomb attack.
In a sharp reaction to Khan's remarks, Amarinder Singh reminded Khan that Masood Azhar was sitting in Bahawalpur in Pakistan and masterminding terror attacks with ISI's help.
'Dear @ImranKhanPTI (Pakistan tehreek e insaf) you have Jaish chief Masood Azhar sitting in Bahawalpur and masterminding the attacks with ISI help. Go pick him up from there. If you can't let us know we'll do it for you,' Singh said in a tweet.
About Khan's demand for proof of Pakistan's involvement, Singh told reporters, 'What proof is he talking about, should we take the bodies there? (Founder of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed) Masood Azhar is in Pakistan and doing things from there, and everyone knows it.'
'Every day our soldiers are being killed at the Line of Control -- so who's killing them?' asked the chief minister, declaring that the entire world knew what Pakistan was doing in Kashmir and other parts of India.
'They (Pakistan) were behind 26/11 (Mumbai terror attack) and India gave all the proof to them, but they did nothing,' Singh said.
He said that even in the Rajasansi blast (at Nirankari Bhawan, Amritsar), a Pakistani grenade was used, clearly exposing their involvement.
'Time to walk the talk,' the chief minister said.
'Imran is a 'Courtesy ISI' prime minister, so how else can one expect him to react.'
Singh further said 'Pakistani prime minister, along with their Army Chief General Bajwa, were killing Indian soldiers and innocent people. India cannot and should not tolerate this..if they kill one of ours, we should kill two'.
Earlier, addressing a public gathering in Patiala at the foundation stone laying ceremony of few projects, Singh, a former army captain, underlined the importance of peace for development but said India needed to avenge the killing of its soldiers.
'Surgical strikes could be one way, but it was up to the Centre to decide what course of action it should take,' said Singh, making it clear that he was not in favour of war.
Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, took to Twitter to react to Imran's assurance to India on taking action if there was proof of involvement of any Pakistanis.
'Disagree. Pathankot dossier was given to them (Pakistan) but no action was taken to punish the perpetrators. Time to walk the talk,' Mehbooba said.
Rathore while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event in Delhi said: "The security and investigative agencies have strong evidence regarding this (Pakistan's involvement in the Pulwama attack) and it has been clearly conveyed to them."
His answer came in response to a question on the Pakistan prime minister's remarks seeking evidence.
"Now, as the PM(Modi) has said, the security forces have been given a full freedom, they will work further in a planned manner," Rathore said.
Asked about Khan's warning, he said India and its government know how to keep the country safe and will do so.
"India is a responsible country and knows how to protect its people and will do so," he added.
"India has made it clear that unless Pakistan shuns terrorism, no talks will take place. If talks take place, it will be for eliminating terrorism," the Information and Broadcasting minister said.
Rathore said Pakistan has been given evidence several times in the past, but no action was taken by it.
"We are still waiting for action on the Mumbai terror attack for which evidence was given to it."