All evidence pointing towards Indian involvement in Lahore gun attack: interior minister

Published April 15, 2024
Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi addresses a press conference in Lahore on April 15. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi addresses a press conference in Lahore on April 15. — DawnNewsTV

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Monday indicated that there was evidence of Indian involvement in the Lahore gun attack on Amir Sarfraz Tamba — the man who allegedly killed Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Kot Lakhpat prison in 2013.

Tamba was critically injured in an attack on Sunday, according to police officials. While media reports had initially claimed that he was killed, Lahore Senior Superintendent of Police Operations Syed Ali Raza had clarified to Dawn that he was alive, although critically injured.

Tamba was at his residence in Lahore’s Islampura area when two masked armed men forcefully entered his home in Ganga Street and fired multiple shots.

They fled the scene, leaving the victim in a pool of blood. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he was being treated.

The interior minister was questioned today about the incident during a press conference at the Federal Investigation Agency’s regional office in Lahore and asked to comment on the veracity of the reported Indian involvement.

“India was directly involved in two to four events like this before in assassinations inside Pakistan. The police are still investigating but till now their suspicion is exactly the same as yours,” he said in response to a reporter’s questions.

“At this time, all evidence is pointing towards them (India), it is inappropriate to say more before the investigation is completed but the pattern [of killings] is almost the same.”

The attack came days after British publication The Guardian reported that the Indian government assassinated individuals in Pakistan as part of a wider strategy to eliminate “terrorists” living on foreign soil.

Following The Guardian report, the Foreign Office had said that the Indian network of extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings was now a “global phenomenon” that required a coordinated international response .

It had also highlighted a press conference by Foreign Secretary Syrus Sajjad Qazi in January, wherein he said there was “credible evidence” of links between Indian agents and the assassination of two Pakistani nationals in Sialkot and Rawalakot.

In contrast to the interior minister’s remarks today, Punjab Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar, while talking to Dawn on Sunday, had said any statement about foreign involvement in the Lahore attack would be “premature or too early” at the moment.

A high-profile investigation has been launched to determine the motive behind the attack, including the possibility of a foreign government’s involvement. Islampura police lodged a murder case against unknown armed men. Due to the significance of the attack, the Punjab government has referred the case to the police’s Counter-Terrorism Department for investigation.

Tamba was one of the two inmates who had attacked Singh in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat prison, where the Indian was serving a death sentence after being convicted of espionage.

He and the other accused, Mudasir Munir, were acquitted in 2018 by a district and sessions court after all witnesses retracted their statements.

Singh was killed a couple of months after Kashmiri leader Afzal Guru was hanged in Mumbai’s Tihar Jail in Feb 2013. Singh was serving his death sentence awarded by the Supreme Court for a series of bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 people in 1990.

The execution of his sentence was repeatedly delayed by the government.

Naqvi downplays Bahawalnagar incident

Meanwhile, Naqvi downplayed the Bahawalnagar incident from last week, which saw an alleged “face-off” between police and army personnel following the arrest of a serving army official, and a supposed decrease in police morale as a result.

“We cannot take one incident to say that the whole nation is demoralised. The reason for that is because an incident definitely happened and is being investigated but even brothers sometimes fight one another in the same home.”

He said disputes could occur in every home and it was no reason to say that the entire force was demoralised.

“I think it should not be [turned into] such a big issue,” Naqvi said, adding that the nation should not play up such issues.

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