ISLAMABAD: A simmering war of words between Pakistan and India heated up on Thursday when Islamabad accused New Delhi of sponsoring and financing terrorism in South Asia.
“Yes, the public confession of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officer Kulbhushan Yadav makes a clear reference to that country in South Asia,” Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told a questioner at weekly news briefing. He was asked to comment on the recent allegations of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Yadav, an Indian navy commander in the service of RAW, was arrested by Pakistani intelligence agencies in Balochistan earlier this year. And in a subsequent video confession he said that the Indian spy agency was fomenting trouble in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan and Karachi.
Speaking at the G20 summit in China on Monday, Modi referred to Pakistan as a single nation fomenting terror in South Asia. He also made a similar reference while addressing a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Laos on Thursday.
Modi’s remarks at the G20 summit were shared by his country’s foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup on his Twitter handle. “Indeed, one single nation in South Asia is spreading these agents of terror in the countries of our region,” Modi was quoted as saying.
“There are some nations that use it as an instrument of state policy,” he added. Modi went on to claim that his country has “a policy of zero tolerance to terrorism,” before adding that “for us, a terrorist is a terrorist.”
Relations between the two hyphenated but hostile neighbours have been on a downward trajectory since the killing of a popular Kashmiri separatist Burhan Wani in a police shootout on July 8. Wani’s killing sparked mass protests in the disputed Kashmir state. Indian security forces used brute force in an attempt to quell the unrest, killing at least 90 protesters and injuring thousands in the process.
Pakistan has launched an aggressive diplomacy to highlight the atrocities of Indian forces. India, which is increasingly upset over Pakistan’s policy, launched a counter offensive by first talking about alleged rights abuses in Balochistan and then repeating charges of terrorism.
Zakaria told reporters that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would raise the issue of Kulbhushan Yadav and the involvement of RAW in stoking terrorism in Pakistan at the upcoming UN General Assembly session in New York.
Turning towards the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, Zakaria expressed Pakistan’s ‘anguish and deep concern’ over the continued atrocities by Indian forces in Kashmir. He deplored what he called international apathy towards the sufferings of Kashmiris that allowed Indian forces to continue their reign of terror with impunity.
“More than 90 innocent and helpless Kashmiri young men, women and children have been martyred thus far while killings continue. The number of eye injury victims due to the use of pellet guns by Indian occupation forces is now over 700 whereas those injured is around 10,000,” he said.
Zakaria pointed out there were alarming statistics, which Prime Minister Nawaz highlighted in his latest wake-up call to the international community and proponents of human rights. “The prime minister’s key message was ‘silence over atrocities is equally wrong and unjustifiable,” he said.
Zakaria said Premier Nawaz would forcefully raise the Kashmir dispute in his address to the UN General Assembly session.
The also spokesperson confirmed that Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned by India over purported cancellation of an invitation to the Indian envoy in Karachi. “Yes, he was called in by the Indian foreign office and given a demarche. We are gathering more information related to this episode. However, let me point out that the Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) is an independent body.”
Responding to a question about the start of a Balochi language service by All India Radio, Zakaria said the move was an attempt to divert attention from ongoing human rights violations by Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2016.