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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

‘Disappointed, hardly surprised’: India critiques Pak response to Pulwama dossier

The dossier had information on JeM’s Pakistan-based chief Masood Azhar and other leaders of the banned terror group. The dossier was shared after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to act if “actionable evidence” was provided.

india Updated: Mar 28, 2019 23:25 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad and Rezaul H Laskar
Imtiaz Ahmad and Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, Islamabad/New Delhi
Pakistan’s latest answer was similar to its response to the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2016 assault on Pathankot airbase, when Islamabad had sought more evidence from New Delhi.
Pakistan’s latest answer was similar to its response to the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2016 assault on Pathankot airbase, when Islamabad had sought more evidence from New Delhi. (AP)

Islamabad on Thursday said it has found no links between militants detained during a recent crackdown and the February 14 suicide bombing in Pulwama, prompting New Delhi to say that Pakistan continues to be in denial about terrorists operating from its soil.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said it conducted investigations on the basis of a dossier provided by India on February 27, which included a list of 90 members of proscribed groups and 22 locations of alleged training camps, but has established no links to the Pulwama attack. It also sought additional information from India. In a response late on Thursday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India was “disappointed at Pakistan’s response to our detailed dossier on the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s complicity” in the Pulwama attack and “the presence of its terror camps and leadership in Pakistan”.

“Regrettably, Pakistan continues to be in denial and even refuses to acknowledge Pulwama as a terror attack. It has not shared details of credible action, if any, taken by it against terrorists or terrorist organisations based in territories under its control,” he added. The exchange reflected the underlying tensions between the two sides despite a recent de-escalation. The Pulwama attack, which killed 40 Indian troopers, was followed by India’s air strike on a JeM facility at Balakot in Pakistan and an aerial engagement along the Line of Control during which an Indian jet piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was downed. The spiralling tensions eased after Pakistan freed Varthaman on March 1, though India has insisted Pakistan should act on terrorists based on its soil. This was reiterated by Kumar, who said: “Pakistan should take immediate, credible, irreversible and verifiable actions against terrorists and terror organisations operating from territories under its control.” Pakistan shared the preliminary findings of its investigations with India on Wednesday. The Foreign Office said an investigation team had been formed, a number of people detained and technical aspects of social media content looked into.

The Pakistani investigators also examined the confessional video of suicide bomber Adil Dar, JeM’s claim of responsibility, Whatsapp and Telegram numbers used to share videos and messages in support of the Pulwama attack, the list of 90 suspected militants and 22 locations of training camps.

“While 54 detained individuals are being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama have been found so far. Similarly, the 22 pin locations [of training camps] shared by India have been examined. No such camps exist. Pakistan is willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. Service providers were requested for data, including details of activities and contacts of a GSM number provided by India and a request for assistance from WhatsApp was made to the US government, the statement added. “Additional information and documents from India would be essential to continue the process of investigations. Pakistan remains committed to taking this process to its logical conclusion,” it said.

While expressing India’s disappointment, external affairs ministry spokesperson Kumar said Pakistan followed an “identical script” after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and the 2016 assault on Pathankot airbase.

Kumar said it was well-known the JeM, a UN-designated terrorist group, and its leader Masood Azhar are based in Pakistan.

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 21:04 IST

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