India considers action against Pakistan after suicide attack

India's foreign ministry said US supports New Delhi's right to self-defence against cross-border attacks.

    A meeting of political parties in New Delhi Saturday extended full support to the government in "fighting terrorism, defending India's unity and integrity".

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called the meeting to build support for action against Pakistan following a deadly car bombing in the disputed Kashmir region that raised tensions with its neighbour.

    Modi had earlier promised a strong response after the Pakistan-based armed group, Jaish-e-Muhammad, also known as JeM, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on a military convoy on Thursday that killed 44 paramilitary officers.

    Earlier, India's foreign ministry has said the United States supports New Delhi's right to self-defence against cross-border attacks following the Kashmir incident.

    In a readout released on Saturday, the foreign ministry said US National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke to his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, on Friday night, promising to help bring those behind the attack to justice.

    "The two NSAs vowed to work together to ensure that Pakistan cease to be a safe haven for JeM and terrorist groups that target India, the US and others in the region," the foreign ministry said.

    "They resolved to hold Pakistan to account for its obligations under UNresolutions."

    Sanjana cries over the body of her husband Mahesh Yadav, a CRPF trooper killed in Thursday blast, in Tudihar village of Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh [Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP]
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    India's government said it had evidence that JeM had Pakistan's backing and demanded Islamabad take action, escalating the already-tense relationship between the neighbours.

    Formed in 2000, the JeM (or Army of Muhammad) is a Pakistan-based armed group that aims to undermine and overthrow Indian control over Indian-administered Kashmir through attacks on security and government targets.

    The group was founded by Masood Azhar, who previously fought under the banner of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and has been linked to al-Qaeda.

    Pakistan condemned the attack and rejected India's allegations.

    On Friday, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua held a meeting with ambassadors of the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France, to push back against India's accusations.

    In a statement, Janjua complained about "a familiar Indian pattern of immediate and reflexive assignment of blame on Pakistan without investigations."

    On the same day, Pakistan's Foreign Office also summoned India's top diplomat, Acting Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia, to protest India's "baseless allegations", according to state-owned Radio Pakistan.

    India has for years accused Pakistan of backing separatist groups in divided Kashmir, which the neighbours both claim in full but rule in part.

    Protesters demand action from Modi after Thursday's suicide attack [Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

    Pakistan insists that it only offers political support to Kashmir's suppressed population.

    Indians have poured onto social media to vent their fury over the suicide bombing in Kashmir, with many of them calling for swift retribution against Pakistan as TV news shows hosted jingoistic debates.

    When he swept to power at the head of a Hindu nationalist-led alliance in 2014, Modi vowed to pursue a tough line with Pakistan. The two countries have gone to war three times since independence from Britain in 1947, twice over Kashmir.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies