Pakistan Accuses India Of Orchestrating Assassinations Of Two Citizens

Foreign Secretary says assassins sent by India were apprehended, and the network used by India to orchestrate the attacks traced 

Pakistan Accuses India Of Orchestrating Assassinations Of Two Citizens

Pakistan on Thursday became the third country after Canada and the United States to accuse India of orchestrating the assassination of citizens in other countries. Islamabad said that they had uncovered the identity of the Indian agents who orchestrated the two assassinations on its soil and are currently trying the assassins involved in courts.

In a news briefing by Foreign Secretary Syrus Sajjad Qazi at the Foreign Office on Thursday evening, he disclosed that two Pakistanis, Shahid Latif and Muhammad Riaz, had been assassinated last year in Sialkot and Rawlakot, respectively.

"We have documentary, financial and forensic evidence of the involvement of the two Indian agents who masterminded these assassinations," he said.

Qazi said that Indian agents used technology and safe havens on foreign soil to recruit, finance and support criminals, terrorists and unsuspecting civilians to play defined roles in these assassinations in Pakistan.

A few other similar cases have also been identified and are under investigation, details of which will be shared later, he said.

"Indian media and social media accounts immediately claimed and glorified these killings as successful retribution against 'enemies' of India and projected their capacity to carry out these illegal acts," he stated.

The foreign secretary also linked recruitment activity by these Indian agents to fake Islamic State (ISIS) - Da'esh - accounts.

"There was complete compartmentalization of the various components of the operation with the employment of teams of financiers, locators, and assassins. Elaborate exit plans were developed to obscure all potential tracks. At this stage, we are sharing information on two cases."

Qazi added that the assassinations fit the pattern of similar assassinations which have surfaced in Canada and the United States. 

"Clearly, the Indian network of extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings has become a global phenomenon," he said, adding that they constitute a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and a breach of the UN Charter. "This violation of Pakistan's sovereignty by India is completely unacceptable."

"It is critical to bring to justice the killers, their facilitators and financers involved in these assassinations. Indian agents need to face justice for its extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings in Pakistan and other countries."

Shahid Latif's assassination

On the assassination of Shahid Latif, Qazi said that he was killed outside a mosque in Daska, Sialkot, on October 11, 2023. 

India had accused Latif of being a key aide to Jaish-e-Muhammad (JEM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar.

Qazi said a detailed investigation had found that an Indian agent identified as Yogesh Kumar, who was based in a third foreign country, had orchestrated the assassination.

The foreign secretary said that Kumar had recruited Muhammad Umair, a labourer working in a third country, to act as a liaison with local criminals in Pakistan to trace Shahid Latif. 

These local criminals managed to locate Shahid Latif but were unable to kill him.

After some failed attempts, Qazi said Kumar sent Muhammad Umair to Pakistan to complete the assassination. 

In Pakistan, Umair organized a team of five target killers. They mounted an attempt to assassinate Shahid Latif on October 9, 2023, but failed. They succeeded in their second attempt when they ambushed Shahid Latif in a mosque in Daska on October 11, 2023, and gunned him down.

Qazi said that using confessional statements and technical evidence, law enforcement authorities managed to apprehend the target killers involved, including Muhammad Umair, as he attempted to flee the country on October 12, 2023. 

"All those involved in reconnaissance and killing have been apprehended and are being tried in a court of law. We have evidence of transactions made in the process linking the entire chain to Indian agent Yogesh Kumar," Qazi said in the briefing.

Muhammad Riaz's assassination

Disclosing details about the assassination of Muhammad Riaz in Rawlakot, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Qazi said that a separate Indian agent was allegedly involved in the attack.

Riaz, also known as Abu Qasim Kashmiri and a former Jamaat-ud-Dawah leader, was killed by unidentified attackers at a mosque in Rawlakot during the Fajr prayers on September 8, 2023.

Qazi said that law enforcement agencies tracked Riaz's killer, Muhammad Abdullah Ali, and apprehended him on September 15, 2023, as he attempted to fly out of Pakistan from the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.

During questioning, Muhammad Abdullah Ali told officials he had been recruited and guided by Indian agents Ashok Kumar Anand and Yogesh Kumar.

He added that the Indian agents used the social media messaging app Telegram to recruit him and had then asked him to locate Riaz.

The assassin for hire said he was paid through middlemen based in a third country. He was also provided with weapons and ammunition to complete the task.

Muhammad Abdullah Ali said he made an unsuccessful first attempt to kill Riaz on September 7, before succeeding in his task the next day on September 8, 2023.

Qazi said law enforcement authorities had apprehended Ali's supporters and facilitators from various cities of Pakistan. 

Based on confessional statements and other technical evidence gathered from the two suspects, Qazi said that Pakistani authorities had traced and identified the facilitators in Pakistan as well as in other countries.

He added that Pakistan has also contacted the governments of the relevant third countries for details and cooperation.

It is pertinent to note that in December 2022, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police made shocking disclosures about the involvement of India in a 2021 bombing near the home of Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed in Lahore's Johar Town. India accuses LeT of orchestrating and Saeed of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which left 166 people dead.

The would-be assassins in that bombing plot were also recruited in a similar fashion in a third foreign country by Indian agents.

India refutes allegations

In a brief statement, India on Thursday rejected Islamabad's accusations of sponsoring terror and assassinations in Pakistan.

In a statement, Indian External Affairs Spokesperson Randhir Jaswal termed the foreign secretary's statement as "Pakistan's latest attempt at peddling false and malicious anti-India propaganda".

He went on to accuse Pakistan of being "the epicentre of terrorism, organised crime, and illegal transnational activities."

Adding that India had "publicly warned Pakistan it would be consumed by its own culture of terror and violence", he stated: "Pakistan will reap what it sows."

"To blame others for its own misdeeds can neither be a justification nor a solution."