Islamabad says it has yet to find any ties between Jaish-e-Mohammad militants and the February suicide bombing in Kashmir
Pakistan on Thursday said it had found no links between militants swept up in a recent dragnet and a suicide attack in India-Occupied Kashmir last month that brought the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war.
The announcement by Pakistan’s foreign office comes after India provided Pakistani officials with a list of 90 suspected militants and 22 locations of alleged training camps. “While 54 detained individuals are being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama have been found so far,” the foreign office said, referring to the area where the attack occurred in Kashmir in February. “Similarly, the 22 pin locations shared by India have been examined. No such camps exist.”
The statement said Pakistan was “willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations.”
Tensions between old foes India and Pakistan soared after the suicide bombing, which killed 40 Indian security personnel and was later claimed by the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) even though a local separatist perpetrated it. Pakistan, long accused by India of using militant proxies in Kashmir, has denied it was involved in the attack.
Earlier this month Islamabad launched an apparent crackdown as it came under pressure to demonstrate its sincerity about eliminating militancy, rounding up alleged militants and shuttering mosques and clinics linked to banned groups.
But the crackdown is reminiscent of previous efforts that later saw militants released without charge, and Pakistan has yet to convince the international community that the latest thrust is sincere.
The U.S. also appeared to increase pressure on Islamabad this week, circulating a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council that would blacklist Masood Azhar, the Pakistan-based leader of JeM, as a terrorist. Pakistan’s ally China earlier this month blocked a request to blacklist Azhar, and the move by Washington sets up a potential clash with Beijing.
It comes as tensions between Indian and Pakistan were ratcheted-up again this week after Delhi announced it had destroyed a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test Wednesday. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the anti-satellite missile test was peaceful and not designed to create “an atmosphere of war.” But analysts said it would not go unnoticed in China and Pakistan, and could be interpreted as a show of Delhi’s advancing military capabilities.