New Delhi: A day after Pakistan made a series of allegations against the Indian government on fomenting terrorism, India termed them as “fabricated”, “figments of imagination” and an attempt to shift focus from “its internal political and economic failures”.
On Saturday, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general Major General Babar Iftikhar and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a high-profile hour-long press conference in which they claimed to have evidence of India’s alleged role in terror incidents, ranging from Balochistan to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as in Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan said that all the “evidence” would be presented as a dossier to world capitals and international organisations including the United Nations and Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). At the briefing, they played three audio files, which they claimed were of RAW handlers, and displayed screenshots of other unverified documents showing financial transactions.
Stating that the press conference was a “futile anti-India propaganda exercise”, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava stated, “The so-called claims of ‘proof’ against India enjoy no credibility, are fabricated and represent figments of imagination.”
He asserted that the press conference was a “deliberate attempt on the part of the Pakistani establishment to shift focus from its internal political and economic failures”. “It also seeks to justify cross-border terrorism, including ceasefire violations and infiltration across the LoC and IB,” added the senior MEA official.
A large part of the allegations were focused on India’s diplomatic missions in Afghanistan. The Pakistani army officer not just claimed that Indian RAW agents were involved in the attacks, but also asserted that “Indian ambassador and consular general (sic) in Jalalabad” were involving in planning and financial support to TTP and Baloch militants.
Earlier in the day, the Afghanistan foreign ministry issued a substantial missive, denying all the allegations.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan strongly rejects the allegations of the spokesman of the Pakistani Army claiming the use of Afghan territory against that country. These claims were made were made during a press conference in the presence of the Pakistani Foreign Minister,” said the statement from Kabul.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to visit Afghanistan this week – his first visit to Kabul since his election in 2018. The announcement of the official visit was made on Saturday – on the same day when Khan also tweeted content of the press conference on his official Twitter account.
Making a reference to the high-level visit, Afghanistan noted that these issues should have been raised bilaterally through diplomatic channels.
“As the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan prepares for the visit of His Excellency the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Afghanistan this week, it is expected that Pakistan would raise issues of bilateral interest and debate through existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms including APAPPS,” it said.
Asserting that as the “greatest victim of terrorism”, Afghanistan will never allow its territory to be used against other countries, the Afghan foreign ministry also called for the setting up of an international delegation by the UN Security Council to “clarify the facts about the terrorist incidents in Afghanistan and its causes and examine the claims of the esteemed government of Pakistan seriously and responsibly”.
Afghanistan also specifically dismissed that an Afghan national, identified as Malik Faridoon by Pakistan, was involved in masterminding the attack on the Army Public school and Agricultural University in Peshawar.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after carefully reviewing the video of the press conference, rejects the allegation and reiterates that there is absolutely no evidence that Malik (Feraydoon Khan) Mohmand, one of the tribal leaders of Nangarhar province, was involved in the terrorist attacks on the Peshawar Agricultural University,” said the Afghan foreign ministry’s statement.
The DG ISPR had claimed that RAW had hired “three facilitators for planning the attack on the university, including Malik Faridoon who was also involved in the planning of APS attack”. Pakistan has been allegations of Indian involvement in the APS terror attack for over a year, which has been denied robustly by New Delhi.
India, in its statement on Sunday, also took aim at the Pakistani political leadership. “The face of global terror, Osama Bin Laden, was found in Pakistan; Pakistan’s PM glorified him as a ‘martyr’ from the floor of Parliament; he admitted the presence of 40,000 terrorists in Pakistan; their Science and Technology Minister proudly claimed involvement and success of Pakistan, led by its Prime Minister, in the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 Indian soldiers were martyred.”
Demanding that Pakistan should end support to “cross-border terrorism”, the MEA spokesperson added that “Distant parts of the world have seen the terror trail lead back to Pakistan”.
“Concocting documents and peddling false narratives will not absolve Pakistan of such actions. We are confident the world will hold it to account,” he added.
India also brought up the recent heavy exchange of firing at the border which has cost the lives of over a dozen soldiers on both sides. India and Pakistan had summoned the acting head of the down-sized diplomatic missions in their respective capitals to lodge protests.
“Despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the ceasefire understanding of 2003 for maintaining peace and tranquillity, Pakistani forces continue to engage in providing supporting cover fire to infiltrators. The incessant infiltration of terrorists and induction of weapons to fuel terror activities continues unabated. Such activities are not possible without the support of Pakistani forces deployed along the LoC,” said Srivastava on Sunday.