Pakistan on Wednesday “categorically” rejected an Indian ‘so-called charge sheet’ that “mischievously attempts to implicate Pakistan in” a 2019 suicide car bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir.
“Pakistan categorically rejects the so-called charge sheet by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), which mischievously attempts to implicate Pakistan in the Pulwama attack in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) last year. The fabrications in the reported charge sheet are patently designed to further the BJP’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric and its narrow domestic political interests,” read a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
New Delhi on Tuesday named Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and six other “Pakistani nationals” among the 19 accused of carrying out the February 2019 attack, in which 40 paramilitary troops were killed.
Despite that the group has been banned by Islamabad since 2002, India accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to JeM.
Islamabad said it had extended cooperation vis-a-vis the investigation into the attack “on the basis of any actionable information.”
However, India, the statement contended, failed to provide any “credible evidence” for its accusations and has instead been using the attack for its “malicious propaganda campaign against Pakistan.”
“The timing of the Pulwama attack, just two months before the Lok Sabha (lower house) elections in India, and the fact that explosives used in the attack were collected from inside the IIOJK, and the key accused persons in the attack have already been killed by Indian forces, raise too many questions. The world knows well as to who benefited the most from Pulwama attack and drew electoral dividends,” it went on to say.
Recalling the downing of two Indian Air Force jets over Pakistan and the capture of an Indian pilot following a dogfight near the Line of Control — a de facto border that splits the Himalayan valley between the two nuclear rivals — on Feb. 26 last year, it said: “Despite India’s provocations, the Indian pilot was released by Pakistan as a peace gesture.”
In response to a paper shared by the Indian government, following the Pulwama attack, the statement further underlined that Islamabad had deployed a high-level investigation team to examine its contents.
“As the information provided by India was incomplete, patchy and unsubstantiated, Pakistan shared two Aides-memoir, seeking further information and supporting evidence from India. India has been unable to provide any corroboration of its unfounded allegations.”
“India cannot mislead the world community with its motivated propaganda,” it asserted, adding that India’s allegations sought to “divert attention” from New Delhi’s state-terrorism in Kashmir, “grave human rights violations” of Kashmiris and the mishandling of domestic issues by regime, naming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) party and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Pakistan has been forewarning the international community about India’s use of “false flag” operation and possible ill-conceived misadventure. With the approaching state elections in India, the RSS-BJP ploy of raising the Pakistan bogey again for making electoral gains is palpable. We warn the world community again to be cognizant of its dangerous consequences for peace and security in the region,” the statement concluded.
Tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors flared in the aftermath of the bombing on Feb. 14 last year, which culminated with both sides claiming to have downed each other’s warplanes.
Pakistan, which denied the charges, launched a fresh crackdown on banned militant groups across the country, including JeM, and arrested dozens of members, among them a brother and son of its leader.
Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China. Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in the Siachen glacier region in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
Thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989, according to several human rights organizations.