P.M. Khan urges global community to take notice of incident and mobilize against ‘rogue behavior’ of Indian government
Pakistan on Sunday alleged that evidence gathered during a probe into last month’s bombing in Lahore’s Johar Town area pointed to it being “Indian-sponsored terrorism,” with senior officials adding that this supported Islamabad’s long-held belief of Delhi funding and fomenting violence to distract from domestic concerns.
The mastermind of the attack, which killed three people and left 24 others injured “is an Indian citizen associated with [Indian intelligence agency] RAW,” National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf told a press conference in Islamabad alongside Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Punjab Inspector General of Police Inam Ghani. “The IG said we have intelligence of foreign intelligence agency, so today without a doubt I want to say, this entire attack points to Indian-sponsored terrorism,” Yusuf said, adding that government had discovered the fake names, real identities, and locations of all suspects thanks to effective coordination between various intelligence agencies.
The June 23 explosion in Lahore occurred near the residence of Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, repeatedly accused by India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, for which the U.S. has announced a $10 million bounty for his arrest.
Yusuf stressed that Islamabad had repeatedly warned of India funding and fomenting terrorism in Pakistan. He revealed that on the day of the Lahore explosion, the country’s information infrastructure had been targeted by thousands of coordinated cyberattacks. “The cyberattack was carried out so that our investigation could not be successful, as it would face obstacles and time could be gained for the network to disperse,” he claimed, while noting that the country’s institutions had nonetheless been “successful” because they had improved their cybersecurity.
“We have no doubt that the Johar Town [blast] and cyberattacks are linked,” claimed the NSA. “And the number in which [cyberattacks] were done, there is no doubt that there was state involvement of our neighbor,” he alleged of India.
The NSA recalled that Islamabad had, last year, presented a dossier of Indian state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan and last month’s incident was another aspect of this process. He claimed that the “direct origin” of the money that financed the attack was India. “Money was sent through third countries; now time has come to pay attention to real criminals,” he said.
According to Yusuf, one of the primary suspects in the attack, Eid Gul, was originally from Afghanistan and had being living in Pakistan for several years. “This is the thing which we repeatedly say that Afghan refugees are our brothers and sisters but the time has come for their dignified return,” he said, clarifying that while the majority of Afghan refugees were peaceful, the actions of a few hiding among them brought disrepute to all of them.
“Pakistan will bring this international network in public view and India’s real face will be exposed, as we have done before,” he said and stressed that Pakistan had “concrete evidence” of Indian sponsorship in this particular incident. India cannot tell the world it wants to “move forward,” he said, while it also plans to “martyr Pakistan’s citizens.”
He also pointed to recent claims by India of Pakistan staging drone strikes in India-held Kashmir as being a “deflection tactic,” noting it was nothing but “drama” from the neighboring nation. “We have identified the main mastermind and the handlers of this terrorist attack and we have no doubt in informing you that the main mastermind belongs to RAW, lives in India and is an Indian citizen,” he stressed.
Timeline of attack
Earlier, during his briefing, the IGP also alleged that the attack was funded from abroad. “We have [identified] the person who was delegated the task to carry out the reconnaissance and execute the attack,” he said, pointing to Eid Gul. “He took the car from Peter and did a dry run in Lahore,” he said, referring to another suspect, Peter Paul David, who was arrested while trying to fly to Karachi.
Ghani claimed a third suspect, Ziaullah, had funded Peter’s purchase of the vehicle used in the attack, adding the car had then been given to Gul, who was directed to execute the attack an unidentified person.
“On June 21, this car had no explosive material, but he [Gul] did a dry run and inspected the area and checked all entry points,” he told the press conference. “On June 22, Gul did reconnaissance in a rickshaw and familiarized himself with the area. Gul is originally from Afghanistan but has lived in Punjab all his life so no one suspected him,” he said. “The day of the blast, June 23, Gul took the car from Islamabad. We also know where and how he prepared [the car],” he added.
According to the IGP, Gul took the motorway from Islamabad to Lahore to avoid local police. “He spent the next 12 hours on the motorway, even rested at a rest area,” he said, noting this had been confirmed by verifying entry and exit time stamps from motorway authorities.
Ghani said a probe had found around 20 kilograms of explosives had been packed into the car, sufficient to leave it in pieces. “This shows the expertise of the person who fit the bomb into the car,” he claimed, adding all main perpetrators of the attack and their facilitators had been taken into custody.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, meanwhile, claimed repeated incidents showed that the Indian establishment “fully supported” terrorist networks in Pakistan. He claimed the group implicated in the Lahore bombing had been fully countered through coordination between the security, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a posting on Twitter, after the press conference, said he had directed his team to brief the nation on the findings of the blast to apprise them of the parties responsible for it. “I appreciate the diligence and speed of Punjab Police’s Counter Terrorism Department in unearthing the evidence and commend the excellent coordination of all our civil and military intelligence agencies,” he said, adding this had helped identify the terrorists and their international linkages.
“Planning and financing of this heinous terror attack has links to Indian sponsorship of terrorism against Pakistan,” he stressed and urged the global community to mobilize against this “rogue behavior.”
Similarly, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that evidence of India’s involvement in the Johar Town bombing vindicated the dossier Islamabad had already provided to the global community of Indian state-sponsored terrorism inside Pakistan. In a statement, he said Islamabad now expected the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to take action against India after evaluating these vital pieces of evidence in line with its primary responsibility of preventing terror financing.
“Is it not the responsibility of FATF to hold India accountable for its terror financing? If no action is taken, then it will show dual standards,” he said, alleging that if FATF ignored this, it would be clear that it was “more of a political forum than a technical forum.”
Lauding the efforts of investigation agencies for unearthing those involved in the Lahore attack, he claimed that if the world had taken Pakistan’s earlier warnings seriously, this bombing could have been prevented.