India and Pakistan engaged in a fresh war of words on Thursday over the purported confession of former Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, with New Delhi strongly rejecting Islamabad’s contention that it had “unveiled India’s nefarious designs”.
The two sides also traded charges over Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for alleged spying, and the 2008 Mumbai attacks, with India calling for the prosecution of the perpetrators of the assault that killed 166 people.
At a weekly news briefing in Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the purported confessions of Ehsan and Jadhav “have proven that India has been involved in supporting terrorist activities in Pakistan” – a charge firmly refuted by India.
“We know the value of such coerced ‘confessions’. All that they reflect is a mindset on the part of those who put out such coerced ‘confessions’, which believes that others in the world also do what they do,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay told a briefing in New Delhi.
India has accused Pakistan of fomenting trouble through cross-border terrorism.
On Wednesday, the Pakistani military’s media arm released what it called the “confessional statement” of Ehsan, the former spokesman of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA). Ehsan recently surrendered to the army.
In his video statement that was prominently aired on all Pakistani TV channels, Ehsan claimed the Taliban and JuA had been coordinating with Indian and Afghan spy agencies to move freely in Afghanistan and that they were guided by the Research and Analysis Wing when infiltrating into Pakistan.
Zakaria described 13 Indians who were reportedly killed when the US dropped the Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb on an Islamic State base in eastern Afghanistan as Indian spies. He said Pakistan will continue to raise India’s alleged interference at international forums.
Meanwhile, India sought from Pakistan a certificate on the health of Jadhav. “We haven’t seen, we haven’t met (Jadhav). He has been in Pakistan’s custody for more than a year. So the well-being and state of health of Jadhav is a matter of great concern,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Baglay said.
“We have asked Pakistani government earlier also, and yesterday our high commissioner (Gautam Bambawale) made a request on providing a report on his medical condition. So we await Pakistan’s response,” he said.
Zakaria said a decision on India’s request for consular access to Jadhav will be taken on merit. He again claimed there was “evidence” against Jadhav.