India on Tuesday called in the Pakistani envoy to lodge a strong protest over Islamabad’s “continuing cross-border terrorism” amid a sharp downturn in bilateral ties.
A “strong demarche” on Pakistan’s use of terrorism against India and the recent arrest of Bahadur Ali, a Pakistani cadre of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, was handed over to Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit by foreign secretary S Jaishankar.
The demarche made “specific reference to LeT terrorist and (Pakistani) national Bahadur Ali”, said external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
Demarche made specific reference to LeT terrorist and Pak national Bahadur Ali who was apprehended recently (2/2) pic.twitter.com/uYwEyCQokM— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) August 9, 2016
In response to a media question regarding summoning of the high commissioner, a Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson said, “We strongly reject Indian claim of any cross-LOC infiltration. Pakistan remains committed to the policy of not allowing its territory for any terrorist activity against anyone.”
“However, it is necessary to establish veracity of the Indian claim. Details in this regard will be gathered,” the spokesperson added.
Ties between India and Pakistan dipped to a new low in January after the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, which was blamed on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed. The unrest in Jammu and Kashmir triggered by the death of militant commander Burhan Wani has added to tensions.
Pakistan has made renewed efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue and Indian home minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Islamabad last week to attend a SAARC meet ended in rancour after a tense encounter with his Pakistani counterpart.
During his meeting with Basit, the foreign secretary strongly protested against the “continued infiltration from Pakistan of trained terrorists with instructions to carry out attacks”. This, Jaishankar said, is contrary to the assurances given by Pakistani leaders at the highest level.
Raising the issue of Bahadur Ali, Jaishankar said the LeT operative had “confessed to our authorities that after training in Lashkar-e-Taiba camps, he was infiltrated into India”.
Ali was in touch “with an ‘operations room’ of LeT, receiving instructions to attack Indian security personnel and carry out other terrorist attacks in India”. The Indian side said Ali, a resident of Jia Bagga village in Pakistani Punjab, was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir on July 25 with weapons, communication equipment and material of Pakistani and international origin.
The Indian said Ali, in a letter addressed to the Pakistan high commissioner, had requested legal aid and assistance to meet his family.
“We are prepared to grant the Pakistan high commission consular access to Bahadur Ali,” Swarup said.
Pakistan has turned down repeated calls by India for action against LeT and its founder Hafiz Saeed, who lives openly in Lahore despite a $10 million bounty offered for him by the US. The LeT was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks and its operative Ajmal Kasab was captured during the assault on the financial hub.