ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Sunday it had “concrete evidence” about the involvement of India in the last month’s Johar Town blast in Lahore as Prime Minister Imran Khan asked the international community to act against New Delhi for its “rogue behaviour”.

Addressing a joint news conference with federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry and Inspector General of Police (IGP), Punjab, Inam Ghani, National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr Moeed Yusuf disclosed that the investigations carried out by the country’s security and intelligence agencies had found “undoubted and concrete” evidence and linkages of the terrorist attack to India.

The NSA said the forensic analysis of the equipment, including telephones, used in the blast showed the main mastermind and all handlers had links to India. He said all local handlers had been arrested.

PM asks world community to act against Delhi for its ‘rogue behaviour’

On June 23, a powerful blast in Lahore’s Johar Town locality had killed three people and injured 22 others, including two police officials. It had caused severe damage to 12 vehicles and nearby houses.

“The attack had a connection with the Indian-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan,” said the NSA. “We clearly know about the main mastermind. He is an Indian citizen and lives in India. He has connections with RAW (Research and Analysis Wing),” he said without providing further details, adding it could affect the ongoing investigation and the next phases of prosecution and conviction.

The NSA said with the help of coordination among the country’s military and civil intelligence agencies, they had identified all characters involved in the attack, saying they knew “fake and real names” and addresses of these people.

The NSA said the terror financing made to execute the Lahore blast originated from India and the money was transferred to the handlers in Pakistan through a third country.

Dr Yousuf said the plan had the backing of the Indian state which was evident from the fact that on the same day, thousands of cyber attacks were carried out on Pakistan’s “investigation infrastructure” in an attempt to divert the attention and fail the country’s efforts to identify the network, besides providing time to the terrorists to disperse. However, he said, the country’s cyber security had also become strong now and because of timely action of the security and intelligence agencies, they succeeded in unearthing the entire network.

“There is no doubt that the Johar Town incident and the cyber attacks were interlinked. They were part of one plan and thinking. The number of cyber attacks and its magnitude make it clear that there was involvement of the state of our neighbouring country in it,” he added.

Dr Yousuf identified one of the primary suspects who had executed the attack and parked the explosive-laden vehicle at the blast site as Eid Gul, saying that he was of Afghan origin, had been raised in Pakistan and also possessed a Pakistani identity card.

“This is what we have been repeatedly saying that Afghan refugees are our brothers and sisters but the time has come for their dignified return,” he said.

He said if the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was a technical forum, and not a political forum, then it should hold the real culprits accountable for terror financing.

In response to a question, however, the NSA said it was not only the FATF’s role, there were a number of other international watchdogs which had the responsibility to keep an eye on terror financing and put sanctions.

The NSA recalled that Pakistan had presented to the world a dossier in November last year which contained minute details, including those about terror financing, bank accounts, telephone numbers and calls indicating network linkages and terrorism rackets run by India.

Responding to a question, he said there had been mysterious propaganda of alleged drone movements in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He said India had staged the drama only to deflect attention so that the culprits of the Lahore blast were not apprehended.

Replying to another query, he said the international community’s silence showed the double standards allowing regional actors to perpetrate attacks in Pakistan. He said Pakistan could not remain silent on its people’s death and if the international community remained silent then they didn’t have interest in peace.

In response to yet another question, Dr Yousuf said Pakistan had decided not to provide its air bases to the US to be used against (militants in) Afghanistan. He, however, said that under an agreement Pakistan would allow the US to use its air space against (militants in) Afghanistan.

IG gives details

APP adds: Earlier, IGP Inam Ghani with the help of slides, video footages and audio clips briefed the reporters about the Lahore attack plan and how it was executed. He also showed the footage showing the accused parking the explosive-laden car at the blast site. He said 20-kg of explosive had been used in the blast which was so powerful that the car was broken into so much pieces that it vanished after the blast.

The IGP said the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and other agencies had efficiently tracked and traced the culprits within 16 hours and identified all suspects involved in the blast.

Giving details of the main suspect, the IGP said a suspect named Peter Pal from Karachi, aged 55-56, who mostly lived outside Pakistan, was the linchpin who connected the entire network and had managed the tempered vehicle stolen in 2010.

“Within hours we had unearthed this whole network and went to arrest [the suspects]. The lynchpin who arranged all this has been arrested, those who arranged the car and those who repaired the car and those who rigged the car with explosives as well, we have all of them,” the IGP said.

He said the car used in the blast had been snatched in 2010. However, the car had been recovered within months and it was later being used on superdari (custody) for which the owner had proper documents, he added. The car had “original number plate”, the official said.

About the suspect Eid Gul, the IGP said he was originally from Afghanistan but he was born and raised in Punjab and spoke fluent Punjabi.

“The target was two police pickets and our people were injured… When the car entered Punjab, it had original number plate and there was nothing in the car. If we start checking the trunk of every car, the [number of cars travelling on the] motorway will be halved.”

“We were successful in unearthing [the suspects] and their connections with hostile intelligence agencies are clear,” the IGP said.

To a query, he said 69 threat alerts were received during the past month and all were thwarted by police and intelligence agencies.

PM’s tweet

Prime Minister Imran Khan through his official social media account on Twitter drew attention of the world community to the Indian-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan and asked it to “mobilise” international institutions against India.

“Again, planning and financing of this heinous terror attack (in Lahore) has links to Indian sponsorship of terrorism against Pakistan. Global community must mobilize international institutions against this rogue behaviour (of India),” he said in a tweet.

The prime minister lauded the speedy investigation of the Punjab CTD and the excellent coordination among civil and military intelligence agencies that led to identifying the terrorists behind the blast and unearthing their international linkages.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2021



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