Sultan M Hali
ACCORDING to the Indian media reports, charge sheet has been registered by their National Investigation Agency against Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar including his brother Rauf Asghar, two JeM operatives Kashif Jan and Shahid Latif, and four dead attackers over their alleged involvement in lethal terror attack. Charge sheet showcases the sequence of events and planning leading up to the attack. Not only this, Interpol has also issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Masood Azhar, Shahid Latif and Rauf Asghar, whereas RCN against Kashif Jan is under process.
According to Indian media, earlier this year also, NIA had reached out to Pakistan for its cooperation in the investigation, but received no reply and Pakistan also, remained quiet on allowing NIA team to visit and investigate. This is a blatant lie because Pakistan condemns terrorism of all sorts and is committed to stand by its international commitments. In pursuit of its policy, Pakistan not only entertained the likelihood of Indian pointers towards non-state operators from Pakistan and detained suspects as well as filed an FIR against the protagonists. Pakistan even constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and dispatched it to India for investigations. Prima facie India welcomed Pakistan’s gestures but gave a cold shoulder to the JIT during its visit to India. The JIT had asked for handing over swab of four alleged terrorists Nasir Hussain (Punjab), Abu Bakar (Gujranwala) and Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum (both from Sind). However, the JIT was only provided the DNA reports but not the swabs. The JIT discovered that the lights along 24 Kms perimeter wall of Pathankot airbase were faulty on the eve of the attack. However, the report claimed that the Pakistani JIT team was only informed about the negligence of Border Security Force (BSF) and Indian forces. JIT was permitted to enter Pathankot air base from a side entrance and was given a measly fifty five minutes sightseeing tour of the base, carefully avoiding the scene of alleged attack.
To add insult to injury, NIA Muslim Officer Tanzil Ahmed, the Indian Muslim inspector, who was investigating the Pathankot attack, was brutally murdered on the day the JIT was to visit Pathankot. This appears to be replay of case of Indian Anti-Terrorism Squad officer Hemant Karkare, who was killed by Hindu extremists in garb of the Mumbai Attacks, after he had exposed their involvement (saffron terror) in the wave of terrorist incidents of 2008 Malegaon in India. Tanzil Ahmad had also reached conclusion that the Pathankot attack was self orchestrated.
Pakistan’s JIT concluded that the Pathankot attack was a false flag operation to implicate Pakistan. India’s various mischievous attempts to hyphenate Pakistan with terrorism are evident. Now the Indian national investigative agencies claim that they have received ample evidence while the US has also supposedly provided crucial evidence in the form of chats and email conversations of JeM members to the agency, all these led NIA to file charge sheet against these people.
In a comprehensive charge sheet filed at the Panchkula Special Court about a year after the attack, the NIA has highlighted the role of the terror group Jaish in spreading mayhem in India and referred to the nefarious plans of the outfit, Indian media claims. The charge sheet alleges that immediately after the Pathankot incident, Masood Azhar’s brother had hosted a video message claiming responsibility for the terror strike and glorified the role of Azhar, who was released in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999.
Masood Azhar has been named as the key conspirator. The charge sheet is likely to be used by India at various international fora to highlight the role of Masood Azhar in the Pathankot terror strike. The fact of the matter is that Maulana Masood Azhar was arrested in India and remained in their custody till 1999. He was released in December 1999 by the Indian government in exchange for passengers on the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight IC814 that had eventually landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which was under Taliban control. The question arises, why India freed Masood Azhar if he is purported to be such a dangerous criminal. They had him in their custody for five years, which is ample time to profile, interrogate and grill even hardened criminals.
Current Indian National Security Adviser and then head of the operations Wing of the Intelligence Bureau, Ajit Doval and the Indian external affairs minister Jaswant Singh negotiated with the hijackers and freed Maulana Masood Azhar, Ahmad Omar Shaikh, who went on to murder Daniel Pearl and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar. It is curious that just after his release, Masood Azhar founded Jaish-e- Muhammad in 2000 which allegedly had a role in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, following which India amassed its troops at the Pak-India border and maintained a threatening posture for ten months. On whose behest is Masood Azhar operating?
India claims that the four alleged terrorists, after entering India from Bamiyal area of Gurdaspur, had carried out the strike at the Pathankot IAF base killing eight people, including seven personnel of IAF and NSG. Enroute the terrorists also allegedly kidnapped Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh. There were loopholes in the SP’s statements as to why the alleged perpetrators of the heinous attack released the SP along with his cell phone. Yet he took hours to inform Pathankot of the impending attack. The charge sheet includes the evidence of linking the footprints of one of the terrorists obtained from Bamiyal besides matching of DNA sample found from a soft drink can in the hijacked car of Punjab SP Salwinder Singh.
It is obvious that India, which is guilty of the odious crime of wreaking havoc on the hapless residents of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), is bent upon diverting world opinion away from its reign in IOK. On one side India is fomenting unrest in Pakistan’s province of Balochistan, unleashing terror attacks in the rest of Pakistan, while on the other its secret services are conducting false flag operations on its own soil but blaming Pakistan. It cannot continue to hoodwink the world forever.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.