The role of Pakistan’s state and non-state actors in the Pulwama attack has now been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. The charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has clearly brought to light a well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by Pakistan-based leadership of terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad. It would be preposterous for Islamabad to continue to be in a denial mode. The key evidence included the forensically matched voice of JeM chief Masood Azhar’s brother, Rouf Asgar, discussing the attack, and a Pakistan government identity card issued to Azhar’s nephew, Mohammed Umer Farooq, the key conspirator. The other pieces of evidence include photographs of every step of the attack, from planning to execution, spanning over 10 months, logs of WhatsApp calls to numbers in Pakistan with pinpointed locations, records of funds deposited in two Pakistan bank accounts in Umer Farooq’s name. The attack by a suicide bomber on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama last February had claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel. The ruthless nature of the attack and the stark casualty count had stirred mass outrage within India, prompting a retaliatory airstrike on Balakot, targeting the terror launch pads deep inside the Pakistani territory. The 13,500-page charge sheet has brought on record the all-out involvement of Pakistan-based entities to carry out terrorist strikes in India and to incite and provoke the Kashmiri youth. The digital, forensic, documentary and oral evidence serves an incontrovertible proof of Islamabad’s role in fomenting trouble in the Valley.
The NIA probe has revealed that Pakistan had lured a local youth to turn into a suicide bomber so as to project the attack as a result of a home-grown militancy. This has been a well-documented strategy of Pakistan to hoodwink the international community and present the terrorist activity in Kashmir as a result of the alienation of the local people. The main problem arises because the establishment and the so-called non-state actors are virtually indistinguishable in Pakistan which has, for decades, used terrorism an instrument of the state policy and nurtured anti-India terror outfits. A steady diplomatic campaign by India to highlight Pakistan-sponsored criminal and terrorist links, which have acted as its proxies in India, is bearing fruit. There is a growing realisation among the international community about Islamabad’s continued pursuit of “war by thousand cuts” strategy and how, in the process, it has become a hub for global terrorism. Over the years, the Pakistani intelligence establishment has built a network of proxies, embedded sleeper agents and provided funds, arms and training as part of its long-term strategy. In 2006, India had submitted a list of 38 most wanted terrorists, including Dawood Ibrahim, to Pakistan, but the latter continued to play a hedging game.
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