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Fair Indian inquiry into boat incident urged

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FO spokesperson Tasnim Aslam.— AFP/File
FO spokesperson Tasnim Aslam.— AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that Pakistani law-enforcement agencies had begun their own probe into the “terror boat” incident claimed by India and again called upon the latter to transparently investigate the issue.

“We expect that there will be a transparent investigation by the Indian government to ascertain the facts of the incident and the circumstance in which the boat caught fire and some people got killed,” FO spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said at the weekly media briefing.

Also read: Pakistan rejects India's 'preposterous' terror boat allegations

The Indian government had claimed to have intercepted a suspicious boat from Keti Bandar (Pakistan) on the New Year night after an hour-long chase. But it was said that the crew afterwards set the boat on fire, which exploded and sank.

The Indian claim was questioned not only in Pakistan but also in India, with many believing that India created the hype to heap the blame on its estranged neighbour.

“There is a debate in India and questions are being raised about the claims and circumstance under which the people in the boat were targeted and boat was set on fire,” the spokesperson said, adding that Delhi apparently had no “sound evidence” to substantiate its allegations.

Ms Aslam said that although India had not shared any information with Pakistan about the incident through diplomatic channels, the latter had on its part started its own probe.

“Based on media reports, our authorities in Pakistan are conducting an inquiry into the incident primarily to ascertain if any Pakistani fishing boat is missing at sea,” she said.

Answering a question about the killing of two Pakistani Rangers personnel by the Indian BSF after having invited them to a border ‘flag meeting’, the spokesperson acknowledged the receipt of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s response to Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz’s letter. The Indian minister had denied Pakistani allegations.

Ms Aslam said India should investigate the matter instead of outrightly rejecting the allegations. “We expect that India, instead of denying, will investigate the circumstance under which the two personnel of Rangers were martyred, conduct a transparent inquiry and bring the responsible for this crime to justice,” she added.

PARIS ATTACK: Pakistan condemned the attack on the offices of satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed.

“We have condemned the attack as we are opposed to terrorism in its all forms and manifestations,” the FO spokesperson said.

Pakistan’s statement of condemnation called upon the international community to continue to stand firm against terrorism and bring the perpetrators of terrorist acts to justice.

President Mamnoon Hussain sent a condolence letter to his French counterpart Francois Hollande in which he said that for the world to remain peaceful “there is a need for concerted global actions against terrorism and violent extremism”.

The FO spokesperson used the occasion to flag Pakistani position on caricatures. Charlie Hebdo was one of the magazines that published the caricatures.

“On the issue of cartoons and caricatures, you know the position Pakistan holds and the position of the Muslim world expressed through the OIC. Pakistan is part of various initiatives for promoting tolerance, inter-faith harmony and eschewing Islamophobia. In this context, Pakistan tables a resolution at the UN General Assembly which is adopted by the consensus,” Ms Aslam said.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2015

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