Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on Sunday apprised envoys from Africa and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states on Islamabad’s position on the recent deadly attack targeting Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area, and New Delhi’s “knee-jerk” reaction blaming Pakistan and threatening it.
Janjua in today’s interaction with envoys belonging to SCO states “recalled a familiar pattern of India blaming Pakistan instantly after such incidents without any investigation”, the Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal tweeted.
The foreign secretary also briefed resident ambassadors from African states.
A day earlier, the foreign secretary had taken envoys from the European Union and non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, on board to clear Islamabad’s position over the Indian campaign against it.
‘India must come out of denial mode’
The Foreign Office (FO) tweeted that a “deliberate anti-Pakistan frenzy is being spurred in India”, and warned that “baseless Indian allegations and aggressive rhetoric are counterproductive and a threat to regional peace”.
A separate FO statement issued today explained that Pakistan had rejected India’s allegations because they were “made within a short time from the attack and without carrying out any investigations”.
“These knee-jerk and preconceived accusations were nevertheless consistent with well-rehearsed tactics from the Indian playbook after such incidents in the past,” the statement added.
The FO stressed Pakistan’s desire for normalisation of ties with India and recalled Prime Minister Imran Khan’s letter to Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. “Prime Minister Khan followed his intention of taking two steps if India takes one with the proposal for both foreign ministers to meet at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and a comprehensive, tangible roadmap for normalisation of ties.”
“It was India which cancelled the meeting on baseless pretexts. Similarly, the Pakistan Kartarpur initiative is another step aimed at improving people to people contacts and deescalating a vitiated environment,” the statement continued.
“Bluster, belligerence and pursuit of expedient standards to suit internal political interests is both delusional and counterproductive. India must come out of the denial mode, end state repression against Kashmiri youth, address widespread alienation In IOK and pursue the path of dialogue,” the statement asserted.
‘India needs to introspect over security, intelligence lapses’
The Foreign Office statement also raised questions over India’s acceptance of a video released by the attacker claiming to have ties to the Jaish-i-Mohammad (JeM).
“As for Indian assertions about ‘JeM claims of responsibility’ and the purported ‘video of the attacker’, the FO spokesperson questioned the selective and self-serving standards that India adhered to in this respect. The spokesperson drew attention to the clear dichotomy in the Indian position,” the press release said.
“On one hand, India accepted the unverified social media content as ‘gold standard’. In contrast, India chose denial when confronted with voluntary confessions and acceptance of responsibility by its serving Naval commander Kulbhushan Jadhav for perpetrating terrorist violence in Pakistan,” the FO noted.
“India needs to introspect and respond to questions about its security and intelligence lapses that led to this attack. India owes an explanation on reports of Adil Ahmed Dar’s arrest and custody since 2017.”
“JeM remains a proscribed entity in Pakistan since 2002 and Pakistan is implementing its obligations on sanctions implementation,” the FO added.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Paul on Friday said that the Pulwama attack was partly the result of an intelligence failure because security forces were unable to detect the loading and movement of the attacker’s vehicle, according to The Indian Express.
“We cannot accept that (intelligence failure). We could not detect or check the vehicle full of explosives moving on the highway. We must accept that we are at fault also,” he had said.
He explained that Indian security forces conducting operations against Kashmiris had not received any warning or intelligence about any of them being trained to become a suicide bomber. “The fact that we did not know […] is also a part of the intelligence failure. I can admit that.”
“This man [the attacker] was very much on our list of suspects. But due to the pressure they were under, no one was giving them shelter in their homes. So he must have escaped to the jungles or the hills and got lost. We knew about him but could not trace him. This was just a chance thing and he was the rare one who got away. The rest have been getting killed,” he had said.
India withdraws ‘security cover’ for Kashmiri leaders
Indian authorities on Sunday withdrew the “security cover” provided to five Kashmiri leaders, including All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, according to Indian media reports. Security cover for Shabir Shah, Hashim Qureshi, Bilal Lone and Abdul Ghani Bhat has also been removed.
“No security cover will be provided under any pretext to these five leaders and other separatists,” a security official told The Indian Express.
According to the government’s order, all security and vehicles provided to the Kashmiri leaders will be withdrawn by the evening, along with any other facilities being provided by Delhi, NDTV reported.
Police have also been tasked to review if any other Kashmiri leaders are being provided such facilities so that they can be withdrawn as well.
Farooq, while reacting to the withdrawal, said that he and other separatist leaders have “never asked for security” and called the development a “non-issue”, The Indian Express reported.
“In fact, it was the government that insisted on keeping the personnel based on what they said was their assessment of threat perception. With or without these police personnel at Hurriyat residence, all remains the same,” Farooq said.
“It has no bearing, nor can it in any way change the reality of the lingering Kashmir dispute or the situation on the ground or our principled stand and outlook regarding its resolution,” he said.
Shutdown in Kashmir against harassment of citizens
A complete shutdown is being observed in Indian-occupied Kashmir against the alleged harassment and attacking of Kashmiri citizens in India and the Valley over the past two days.
Kashmiri students studying in colleges in India’s Haryana, Dehradun, Chattisgarh and Meerut also reported being harassed and attacked by Hindu mobs.
A Kashmiri student in Chattisgarh was suspended for a WhatsApp chat on the Pulwama attack, while Aligarh Muslim University suspended a Kashmiri student for a tweet on the attack. A case was also registered against the youth for his tweet.
Pulwama attack and its aftermath
On Thursday, at least 44 Indian paramilitary troops were killed in Indian-occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area in the deadliest attack on security forces in the valley since 2002. The attack, surpassing one in 2016 when 19 soldiers died, saw explosives packed inside a van rip through buses in a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying some 2,500 members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Indian media reports claimed that JeM had claimed responsibility for the attack. The attacker was identified as a Kashmiri youth named Aadil Ahmad Dar who had used more than 750 pounds of explosives to target the military convoy.
Indian military commander Lt Gen DS Hooda, who had led the Indian army’s Northern Command during a similar crisis in September 2016, said it is not possible to bring such a massive amount of explosives into the area “by infiltrating the border”. He told the New York Times on Saturday that “the material may have been taken from stashes of explosives” being used to broaden the Jammu highway where the attack occurred.
Shortly after the attack, Islamabad had strongly condemned the violence and rejected any insinuation that sought to link it to Pakistan without investigation.
On Friday, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley alleged there was “incontrovertible evidence” of Pakistan “having a direct hand in this gruesome terrorist incident” hours before a team of investigators from India’s National Investigation Agency had reached the site of the attack. He also vowed that all measures would be taken to ensure Pakistan’s complete diplomatic isolation.
Shortly after, India took several punitive economic measures, including the withdrawal of ‘Most Favoured Nation’ trade status and raising customs duty on all imports from Pakistan to 200 per cent, which is expected to affect the $2 billion bilateral trade. India has also decided to increase pressure on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to get Pakistan blacklisted over alleged links with the JeM.
Pakistan on Saturday warned the international community that India could resort to military adventurism in the aftermath of the attack and asked Delhi to investigate the tragedy before passing on the blame and share “actionable evidence” so that the matter could be pursued.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar, however, has rejected Pakistani calls for a probe into the attack before blaming Pakistan, saying: “The demand for an investigation is preposterous when there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. There are also other audio-visual and print materials linking JeM to the terrorist attack. We have, therefore, no doubt that the claim is firmly established.”
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in an interview yesterday said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had two options: either to exploit the situation to his own advantage in view of the upcoming general elections or to act like a statesman who has vision for the betterment of his country and the region.
“One is to act like a typical politician and stage his reactions and policy while keeping an eye on the next election. Alternatively, he has the option of being a statesman who thinks about his region, his country’s poverty, the betterment of his country, as well as regional betterment,” he said.