Friday July 19, 2024

Evidence links Indian agents to killings of Pakistanis on Pak soil: FO

These cases have exposed the increasing sophistication and brazenness of Indian-sponsored terrorist acts inside Pakistan

By Mariana Baabar
April 06, 2024
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs building can be seen. — APP/File
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs building can be seen. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Friday said that Pakistan had credible evidence linking Indian agents to extra-territorial and extra-judicial killings of two Pakistani nationals on Pakistani soil.

These cases have exposed the increasing sophistication and brazenness of Indian-sponsored terrorist acts inside Pakistan, with striking similarities with the pattern observed in other countries, including Canada and the United States.

“India’s assassination of Pakistani nationals on Pakistani soil is a clear violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a breach of the UN Charter. It is critical to bring to justice the perpetrators, facilitators, financiers and sponsors of these extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings,” the ministry said.

The Indian network of extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings, it added, is now a global phenomenon that needs coordinated international response. India must be held accountable internationally for its blatant violation of international law.

The Foreign Office made reference to the statements which it had issued a few months ago when it was asked on Friday to respond to The Guardian, which in a report published on Thursday, said that the Indian government assassinated individuals in Pakistan as part of a wider strategy to eliminate terrorists living on foreign soil.

The report cited intelligence officials from both countries, as well as documents shared by Pakistani investigators, saying they “shed new light on how India’s foreign intelligence agency allegedly began to carry out assassinations abroad as part of an emboldened approach to national security after 2019”.

Initially the Foreign Office said it was not ready to comment on media reports but pointed to a detailed statement that the foreign secretary had made a few months ago which would to a great extent address the accusations against India as carried by ‘The Guardian’.

Taken aback by revelations in The Guardian newspaper that the Indian government had assassinated individuals inside Pakistan, New Delhi responded in a contradictory manner with the minister of defence at odds with the ministry of external affairs.

When Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was asked on television about the accusations by ‘The Guardian’, he confirmed and said as Prime Minister Modi had asserted “India has shown that it will go inside their house (Pakistan) and kill them”.

Meanwhile, India’s ministry of external affairs denied the claims, reiterating an earlier statement that they were “false and malicious anti-India propaganda”.

The ministry emphasised a previous denial made by India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, that targeted killings in other countries were “not the government of India’s policy”.

The Foreign Office referred to the statement by Foreign Secretary Syrus Sajjad Qazi in which he pointed to the sophisticated and sinister Indian campaign of extra-territorial and extra-judicial killings inside Pakistan.

“We have credible evidence of links between Indian agents and assassination of two Pakistani nationals on Pakistani soil.

These were killings-for-hire cases involving a sophisticated international setup spread over multiple jurisdictions. Indian agents used technology and safe havens on foreign soil to commit assassinations in Pakistan. They recruited, financed and supported criminals, terrorists and unsuspecting civilians to play defined roles in these assassinations”, the foreign secretary had claimed.

He had said that the Indian media and social media accounts immediately claimed and glorified these killings as successful retribution against “enemies” of India and projected their capacity to carry out these illegal acts. Potential assassins were recruited, using social media, talent spotters and fake Daesh accounts.

“There was complete compartmentalisation of the various components of the operation with employment of teams of financiers, locators, and assassins. Elaborate exit plans were developed to obscure all potential tracks. At this stage, we are sharing information on two cases. A few other similar cases are under investigation and will be revealed in due course,” he had added.

First case was that of the assassination of Shahid Latif. On October 11, 2023, a group of criminals assassinated Shahid Latif outside a mosque in the city of Sialkot. A detailed investigation revealed that an Indian agent, Yogesh Kumar, based in a third country orchestrated the assassination through criminals and terrorists.

Yogesh Kumar recruited Muhammad Umair, a labourer in that third country, to act as a contact with local criminals in Pakistan to trace and assassinate Shahid Latif. The recruited local criminals were able to locate and trace Shahid Latif. However, the killers-for-hire were unable to carry out the execution.

After some failed attempts, Umair was personally sent to Pakistan to carry out the assassination. Umair organised a team of five target killers which after first failed attempt on October 9, 2023, succeeded in assassinating Shahid Latif on October 11.

Based on confessional statements and technical evidence, law enforcement authorities quickly apprehended the target killers, including Umair, who was trying to flee the country on October 12. All those involved in reconnaissance and killing had been apprehended and are being tried in a court of law. “We have evidence of transactions made in the process linking the entire chain to Indian agent Yogesh Kumar,” he had said.

Second case is that of the assassination of Muhammad Riaz. Another Indian agent was involved in killing of another Pakistani national Riaz, who was assassinated during Fajr prayer, in a mosque in Rawalakot on September 8, 2023. Law enforcement agencies tracked the killer Muhammad Abdullah Ali and apprehended him on September 15 while boarding a flight at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi.

Interrogation revealed that Abdullah Ali was recruited and guided by Indian agents Ashok Kumar Anand and Yogesh Kumar. Indian agents utilised social media app Telegram to recruit Abdullah Ali, who was asked to locate Riaz.

Abdullah Ali received payments through middlemen based in a third country. He was also provided with weapons and ammunition. After a failed attempt on September 7, Abdullah Ali succeeded in killing Riaz on September 8, 2023.

The law enforcement authorities apprehended Abdullah Ali and his supporters and facilitators from various cities of Pakistan. The case is being tried in a court of law. Based on confessional statements of Abdullah Ali and technical evidence, the investigators quickly identified the facilitators in Pakistan as well as in third countries.

“We have documentary, financial and forensic evidence of the involvement of the two Indian agents, who masterminded these assassinations. We are releasing the passport details of Yogesh Kumar and Ashok Kumar. We have also reached out to the governments of relevant third counties. And as I said earlier, there are a few other cases of similar gravity at various stages of investigation”, the foreign secretary had said.

The conclusions one is forced to draw from these developments are as follows:-

These cases reveal growing sophistication and brazenness of Indian sponsored terrorist acts inside Pakistan.

They fit the pattern of similar cases which have come to light in other countries, including Canada and the United States. Clearly the Indian network of extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings has become a global phenomenon.

Pakistan has remained a target of extra-judicial killings for some time now. We are now witnessing an increased sophistication in these operations as revealed in these two cases.

It is critical to bring to justice the killers, their facilitators and financers involved in these assassinations. Indian agents need to face justice for its extra-judicial and extra- territorial killings in Pakistan and other countries.

India’s assassination of Pakistan nationals on Pakistani soil is violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a breach of the UN Charter. This violation of Pakistan sovereignty by India is completely unacceptable.

The foreign secretary had demanded that India must be held accountable internationally for its blatant violation of international law.

“Pakistan remains committed to protecting its people and securing its sovereignty. Protection of Pakistanis and any foreign national on Pakistani soil is a high priority for the Government of Pakistan.

“India’s reckless and irresponsible act calls into question India’s reliability as a credible international player and its claims for enhanced global responsibilities,” Syrus had pointed out.