India withdraws MFN status to Pakistan: Jaitley

Indian soldiers examine the debris after an explosion in Lethpora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district February 14, 2019. REUTERS

Taking Pakistan head on after Pulwama terror attack in which at least 37 CRPF jawans were killed on Thursday, India on Friday made it clear that a retribution will follow and declared it has given “complete freedom” to its security forces to ensure that those who carried out the  attack and supported it “pay a heavy price”

Minutes after chairing  a crucial meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, which discussed the security scenario in wake of the dastardly attack in Jammu and Kashmir and the strategy ahead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi put Pakistan on notice while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who announced withdrawal of “Most Favoured Nation” status from it, said India has “incontrovertible evidence of Pakistan having a direct hand in this terror attack.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who will be in Srinagar to take stock of the situation will hold an all-party meeting  in the national capital most likely tomorrow to brief parties about the incident and the plan thereafter as the government is keen that a unitary voice from the nation goes out on the episode as India strives for “complete isolation” of Pakistan at international after this attack.

“130 crore Indians will give a befitting reply (munhtod jawab) to this attack. Our neighbouring country’s intentions of destabilising India are not going to succeed. I want to tell the terror outfits behind this act that they have committed a blunder (bahut badi galati), they will have to pay a heavy price. I want to assure the nation that whichever forces are behind the Pulwama attack, all those who have carried out this dastardly act will definitely be punished. We have given full freedom to our security forces and have full faith in their valour,” the Prime Minister said at an event to flag off Vande Mataram Express minutes after the key CCS meeting.

The PM said he understands the anger of people over the incident who feel it's time to do something as it is "very natural". Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who attended the CCS meeting said that the inistry of External Affairs will take all possible diplomatic steps to ensure “complete isolation” of Pakistan and insisted India has incontrovertible evidence of Pakistan having a direct hand in this terror attack.

Taking the argument further, Modi called other nations to join the fight against terror to decisively defeat the menace describing  it as a fight between humanist forces (manavatavaadi takten) and terror forces. He also urged rival political parties rise above political differences at this “very sensitive time” and underlined the need for unified voice from the nation to “win this battle”.

“Our security forces will ensure that those who have indulged in this attack and those who have actively supported it pay a heavy price. There is the incontrovertible hand of Pakistani hand in this gruesome incident,” said Jaitley after the CCS meeting.

He also said that Ministry of External Affairs will also try to ensure that a consensus is built for approving the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), which is pending before the United Nations since  1986.

“CCS chaired by the Prime Minister made a review and assessment on the ground,” he said and added that Home Minister Rajnath Singh will hold an all party meeting most probably on Saturday to brief the leaders about the Pulwama terror attack and the overall security scenario in wake of the incident.

Jaitely announced that a decision to withdraw MFN status from Pakistan was taken at the CCS meeting. India had granted MFN  status to Pakistan way back in 1996. Pakistan is yet to grant the same to India and even as recently as in November last year Pakistan made it clear that there is no plan to give MFN status to India.

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