Clumsy clarifications and semantic acrobatics notwithstanding, the plain and simple message from Pakistani federal minister Fawad Chaudhry’s statement on the floor of the national Assembly is that his country had a role in the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF jawans last year. The entire world watched the video footage of the minister bragging about it, saying on record “Hindustan ko ghus ke maara” (We hit India in their home). In the same breath, he even described the terror strike as an achievement of the Imran Khan government. It is a different matter that he was forced to take a U-turn and give a string of interviews to Indian media outlets in a clumsy fire-fighting effort. The minister’s clarification that he was referring to the ‘post-Pulwama’ action by Pakistan and that his country would not condone any acts of terrorism will not cut much ice. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the Pulwama attack, had filed a charge sheet in August naming Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and others for “carrying out the attack at the behest of Pakistan”. Those who are familiar with the working of Pakistan’s deep state know that its military bosses have long nurtured anti-India terror outfits and it is these non-state actors that are unleashed to carry out attacks in the Kashmir Valley. In a way, Chaudhry was only stating the obvious when he bragged about his government’s achievement in Pulwama. He had to retract the remarks because of the potential damage they can cause.
The NIA has a watertight case with incontrovertible technical and forensic evidence that proves Pakistan’s role in the February 2019 attack. The explosives used in the attack — ammonium nitrate, nitro-glycerine and RDX — came from Pakistan in batches over a period of four months. Chaudhry’s statement comes against the backdrop of Pakistan narrowly escaping from being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Paris-based terror financing watchdog kept the country on the ‘grey list’ at its meeting earlier this month. The plenary, the FATF’s highest decision-making body, will meet in February 2021 and has given Islamabad time until then to meet all the 27 parameters, especially those that pertain to imposing sanctions on terrorist outfits. Already, Islamabad stands isolated and thoroughly exposed on the issue of supporting terrorism. Even its all-weather friend China and Saudi Arabia refrained from coming out in its support at the recent plenary meeting of the 39-member FATF. Pakistan has been under pressure from the international community for over two years to implement a plan to curb money laundering and terror financing. Unfortunately, it has now become the hub for global terrorism.
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