Azhar’s link with Pulwama attack not found: FO

Investigation panel found 'no connecting dots' that could prove link of any Pakistani


Our Correspondent March 28, 2019
A file photo of Maulana Masood Azhar. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: A day after sharing preliminary findings into the Pulwama attack, the Foreign Office said on Thursday said the Indian dossier failed to establish any link between the chief of banned Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) Masood Azhar and the February 14 suicide bombing in occupied Kashmir.

At a weekly press briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said the Pakistan government had constituted a 10-member investigation team to look into the dossier given by India on February 27, regarding the alleged linkage of Pakistan with the Pulwama incident.

He said the investigation panel found “no connecting dots” that could prove link of any Pakistani, including Masood Azhar, with the Pulwama attack, in which over 40 security personnel of India’s Central Reserve Police Force were killed.

India was quick to blame the JeM based on the purported video statement recorded by Adil Ahmed Dar, the alleged suicide bomber. Pakistan at the time offered India all possible assistance and promised to take action based on the “actionable evidence”.

On Wednesday, Pakistan shared the findings of its preliminary probe with India. Islamabad sought more evidence if any to take the case forward. And on Thursday, representatives of diplomatic corps were invited to the Foreign Office for a briefing on Pakistan’s investigations into the Pulwama attack.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that Indian shared a paper on February27. Soon after its receipt, Pakistan constituted an investigation team, detained a number of persons for investigations and initiated work on the technical aspects of social media content – main basis of Indian paper.

“The Indian paper contains 91 pages and 6 parts, out of which only part 2 & 3 pertain to Pulwama incident. Other parts are generalised allegations. Pakistan is focusing on those parts which relate to Pulwama incident,” Dr Faisal said.

During the course of investigations, all aspects of the information provided by India have been thoroughly examined, including the “confessional” video of Adil Dar, “claim” of responsibility for the attack, Whatsapp and Telegram numbers used to share videos and messages in support of Pulwama attack, list of 90 individuals suspected of belonging to a proscribed organisation and 22 pin locations of alleged training camps.

“Service providers have been requested for data, including relevant details of activities and contacts of the GSM number provided by India. A request for assistance from Whatsapp has also been made to the US government.”

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While 54 detained individuals were being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama had been found so far, the spokesperson said. “Similarly, the 22 pin locations shared by India have been examined. No such camps exist. Pakistan is willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations.”

The spokesperson said that 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, he added.

The attorney general, foreign and interior secretaries and director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were also present during the briefing.

On a resolution, tabled by the United States in the UN Security Council, seeking freezing of Masood Azhar’s bank accounts, the spokesman said that such a listing was a purely technical issue for which the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee was the appropriate forum.

He regretted that the resolution was moved in UNSC at a time when the matter was under consideration by the 1267 Sanctions Committee and said that such efforts to circumvent the established machinery would only weaken the 1267 regime. He said Pakistan remained committed to fulfil its obligation under the UNSC’s 1267 regime.

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