Senior government officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, have publicly blamed India for last month’s blast near the residence of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed in Lahore’s Johar Town neighbourhood. While the evidence shared with the public is limited to the statements of top police and national security officials, even for a skeptic, the connection is hard to miss. Saeed is one of India’s most wanted men — accused of being the mastermind of the attack on Indian Parliament in December 2001, among several others. Even though he was behind bars and nowhere near the scene of the blast, the symbolism cannot be missed — an attack on the house of the man who allegedly attacked the Indian people’s house.
Also, in terms of evidence for an Indian connection, we must note that neither the TTP nor any other domestic terrorist group has tried to claim responsibility for the deadly attack carried out on June 23. This hints at the involvement of a party which cannot publically admit to being involved, but does want to send a message.
The background to the Johar Town attack was provided during a press conference on Monday addressed by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Nation Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and the Punjab police chief Inam Ghani. The attack suggests a high level of sophistication — plotting in the Middle East using Pakistani frontmen to make it harder to establish a direct connection to Indian agencies or money. We were also told that the attack coincided with thousands of coordinated cyberattacks on the country’s information infrastructure. There were also reminders of the dossier Pakistan presented last year and how Pakistan will expose the Indian network, “as we did before”.
Unfortunately, we either did not do a good enough job before, or the world doesn’t care. In fact, both are true. Even with a living proof like Kulbhushan Jadhav, we have failed to convince the world about the Indian involvement in terrorism activities in our country which have been happening with a rather growing frequency for the last couple of years. We have the Indian spy, who was a serving commander in the Indian Navy, in our custody for more than five years — since March 2016 to be exact. It seems as if the concocted and misleading Indian version — that “Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer running a cargo business in Iran, had been abducted by the Pakistan security forces” — is selling more globally. This is what reminds us of our power potential in the diplomatic world which is guided by national (read commercial) interests rather than what is wrong and what is right.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has gone as far as calling on the FATF to take action against India, which, while a valid argument, would require the presentation of evidence acceptable to the world community. As we noted, this bar is either much higher than our leaders understand it to be, or the world isn’t interested, and such talk is only meant to generate soundbites for local audiences. There is merit to both arguments, given the fate of the last dossier and the recent conflicting statements by Qureshi and other cabinet members on the FATF. It is also clear that Qureshi has not learned from the hints being dropped by foreign diplomats in international media outlets, as he continues to accuse the FATF of being politicised, forgetting that such name-calling is not going to make any foreign power warm to Pakistan’s position.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2021.
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