Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the Interior Minister, warned on Sunday that a “international scheme” was in the works to carry out terrorist operations in major cities, urging Pakistan to take rigorous measures and play a responsible role.
In an interview with Geo News’ “Naya Pakistan,” Sheikh Rashid was asked whether he had seen evidence connecting India to the Johar Town explosion in Lahore, and if India’s participation could be established definitively.
“I have no doubt [on India’s involvement],” Sheikh Rashid responded.
He claimed a “very dangerous group” had been arrested in Karachi, but warned that terrorists being freed on bail was a big issue in Pakistan.
People freed from foreign prisons were transported to Pakistan, according to the interior minister, and
“India doesn’t know how well trained our agencies and police are now — these are not institutions from 1978 [or] 1979 — they are working with advanced technology and we have our eyes on all matters and we were expecting an attack in Lahore.
“Pakistan should take strict steps because India is not desisting [from destabilising activities in Pakistan],” the minister said.
Rashid recalled that “some people among us were talking of opening trade with India”.
“How can we resume trade with them?” he questioned.
Pakistan must take a “strict, forceful, and responsible role,” according to the interior minister, since nothing is more essential than the country’s security. He mentioned India’s involvement in Afghanistan, saying it was becoming a big problem, with “a lot of venom being spewed” and allegations levelled against Pakistan.
“Efforts are under way to sandwich us in this situation but hopefully we will emerge successfully from this,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s army, institutions, law enforcement and civilian agencies were “fully alert and ready”.
The blast in Lahore occurred just days before the Financial Action Task Force’s decision on Pakistan’s grey list status — at a time when Pakistan had already completed 26 of the 27 items on the June 2018 action plan — and “we were already expecting an incident in Lahore or Karachi,” according to the interior minister.
The interior minister’s remarks came only hours after National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yusuf claimed evidence collected during the inquiry into the Johar Town explosion pointed to “Indian-sponsored terrorism.”
Addressing a press conference alongside the Punjab police chief and federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Yusuf had said the mastermind of the blast which killed three people and left 24 others injured “is an Indian citizen and he is associated with [Indian intelligence agency] RAW”.
“The IGP (inspector general of police) said we have intelligence that a foreign intelligence agency was involved, so today without a doubt I want to say, [the circumstances] of this entire attack lead to Indian-sponsored terrorism,” the NSA had said.