New Delhi: With Pakistan announcing the arrests of JeM chief’s relatives, terrorists and the imminent return of high commissioner Sohail Mehmood, Islamabad has been on a visible mode of de-escalation. But New Delhi isn’t convinced yet that any steps by the Pakistani government will be long-lasting and wants to continue applying pressure through the international community.
On Tuesday, the Pakistani foreign ministry announced that their high commissioner “will be returning to New Delhi, after completion of consultations in Islamabad”. Mehmood has been in Islamabad since February 18, when Pakistan decided to take a tit-for-tat action when the Indian high commissioner was withdrawn after the Pulwama terror attack.
Besides, the Pakistani foreign ministry’s director general South Asia & SAARC, Mohammed Faisal informed India’s acting high commissioner that the meeting on the Kartarpur corridor project on March 14 in Delhi is confirmed. The Pakistani press note also added there will be a return visit by the Indian delegation on March 28.
The third component of the press release was that Pakistan will continue to have weekly contact at the level of director generals of Military Operations Directorates.
I conveyed to India today that our HC would be returning to Delhi, our Delegation will visit Delhi on 14 March, return visit of Indian delegation would be on 28 March to discuss Kartarpur Corridor, & conveyed our commitment to continued weekly contact at MO Directorate level.
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@DrMFaisal) March 5, 2019
This is in addition to the Pakistani interior ministry claiming that it has detained 44 members of banned organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar’s younger brother.
Pakistan National Counter-Terrorism Authority also included the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) in the list of proscribed organisations, weeks after first announcing that it had banned the two groups. They had been only put on the watch list then.
However, the Pakistani side was quick to note that the Indian dossier was not the basis of their actions.
Pakistani interior secretary Azam Suleman Khan claimed that the Indian dossier lacked “concrete evidence” to link any Pakistani national to the February 14 suicide terror attack.
He added that further action will be taken only if evidence was found during the investigations. “In case we don’t find any evidence against them, we will release them,” added Khan.
Meanwhile, Indian sources noted that they didn’t expect Pakistan’s response to the dossier to be any different from previous instances of terror attacks in Mumbai and Pathankot. So far, there has been no reply from Pakistan through diplomatic channels to the dossier, which was handed over on February 28 after the retaliatory airstrikes.
Sources added that the dossier was given largely with the international community in mind. That’s why, excerpts of the dossier were also shared with world capitals.
Meanwhile, officials in New Delhi are clear that the military operation part of India’s response to Pulwama is over. The next step would be to build “maximum diplomatic pressure”, they said, to ensure that momentum to push Pakistan to take action against proscribed groups is sustained.
The other diplomatic initiative that India is focusing on is the US-UK-France proposal to bring JeM chief Masood Azhar under the purview of the UNSC sanctions regime. The last date for any state to convey their objection is March 13.
India has also shared photographs of the AMRAAM missile, that it claims were fired from an F-16, with the US. New Delhi would like the US to investigate whether Pakistan has violated the end-user agreement on deployment of F-16 against India and take further action.
Sources were also critical of statements from Pakistani authorities that suggested India was going to take more military steps. They were specifically scathing about a claim by the Pakistani navy that Indian submarines were near their waters. “Pakistan is keeping this war psychosis going so that their own population does not ask questions from them,” sources said.