New Delhi: After Pakistan’s foreign minister accused India of being behind the terror attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange, New Delhi dismissed the allegations as “absurd” and taunted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for referring to Osama Bin Laden as a “martyr” in parliament.
At around 10 in the morning, four armed gunmen attempted to enter the compound of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). They were stopped by security personnel and in the ensuing gun fire, all four militants were killed, along with a police officer and three security guards.
The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that the terrorists were armed with grenades, automatic rifles and explosive material.
According to Sindh Rangers director general Omer Ahmed Bukhari, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has apparently taken responsibility via a social media post, but said that a final picture will be available only after investigation.
The BLA were designated as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” by the US state department in July 2019. They have been accused of carrying out a November 2018 attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, a suicide attack that targeted Chinese engineers in August 2018 and blamed for a May 2019 attack on a luxury hotel in Gwadar.
In a tweet, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi described the attack as “externally supported terrorism”.
State run Radio Pakistan further reported that Qureshi had directly pointed a finger at India.
“Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says the clues of [the] terrorist attack on [the] Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi are leading towards India’s activated sleeper cells,” it said.
Qureshi also stated that India was attempting to disrupt the law and order situation in Pakistan just as it was readying to open the Kartarpur corridor. Pakistan had offered to open the corridor from June 29, but India had stated that it was too short a notice period.
Following Qureshi’s statement, Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava responded, “India rejects the absurd comments of the foreign minister of Pakistan on the terrorist attack in Karachi”. He said Pakistan was attempting to “shift the blame on India for its domestic problems”.
Stating that India condemned the attack, Srivastava asserted, “Unlike Pakistan, India has no hesitation in condemning terrorism anywhere in the world, including in Karachi”.
“Foreign Minister Qureshi may wish to reflect on this, as also his own fovernment’s position, including his Prime Minister’s description of the global terrorist [Osama bin Laden] as a “martyr”.” he added.
This is not the first time that Pakistan has accused India of fomenting terror attacks and supporting separatist Baloch groups. A former Indian Navy officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is still in Pakistani custody, had been convicted by a Pakistani military court of terror attacks, but the International Court of Justice said that Islamabad had to review and reconsider his trial after Islamabad was found to have violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in denying him consular access.
Meanwhile, relations between India and Pakistan continue to go further south. On Tuesday, scores of Indian and Pakistani high commission officials will leave for their homes, after the two countries decided to slash the staff in their missions by half.
“In implementation of the decision taken by the Government of India to reduce the strength of the High Commissions to 50 percent, the officials and their family members from the Indian High Commission would be returning tomorrow,” said official sources.