New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Tuesday exchanged sharp words with New Delhi slamming Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning of retaliation should India launch a strike in response to last week’s Pulwama terror attack.

Pakistan fired the first salvo with Khan twinning a televised promise to act against the perpetrators if New Delhi shared “actionable intelligence" with a warning of retaliation to any punitive action.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi shot off a letter to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, claiming that India had threatened the use of force and that UN intervention was needed to de-escalate tensions.

Responding to Khan, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh in a Twitter post reminded Khan that Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack, was in Pakistan and that Khan should arrest him.

The Indian foreign ministry also slammed the Pakistan prime minister for “disclaiming any link between the terrorist attack and Pakistan" pointing out that he had “ignored claims made by the JeM, as well as by the terrorist, who perpetrated this heinous crime". “It is a well-known fact that Jaish-e-Mohammed and its leader Masood Azhar are based in Pakistan. These should be sufficient proof for Pakistan to take action," the Indian statement said.

The war of words follows a heightening of tensions between the two countries with both calling back their high commissioners for consultations following the Pulwama terror attack in which at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed on Thursday.

In his address, the Pakistan prime minister said: “I have been hearing and seeing on the Indian media that politicians there are calling for revenge on Pakistan. If India thinks it will attack Pakistan, then we will not just think, but retaliate."

“It’s not in our interests that somebody from here goes out to perpetrate terrorism, nor that somebody comes here and does terrorism," Khan added.

Stating that Pakistan was ready for talks with India on terrorism, Khan said: “I say it clearly this is a Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan) and a new mindset...if you have any actionable intelligence that a Pakistani is involved, give it to us. I guarantee you we will take action—not because we are under pressure, but because they are acting as enemies of Pakistan."

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