Pakistan should not ignore global anger over Pulwama attack

Pakistan should not ignore global anger over Pulwama attack

It is time Islamabad brought terrorists to justice

Venkat Raman

Auckland, February 22, 2019

Army soldiers near the site of suicide bomb attack in Pulwama District in South Kashmir (PTI)

Never in its 72-year history as an independent, Sovereign country has India committed any aggression on any of its neighbours, especially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; in fact, it has been a singular victim of the latter’s homegrown terrorist attacks.

The latest attack, that took place on February 14, 2019 in the Pulwama District of Jammu & Kashmir State of India, killing 44 soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF), has angered the world, with Presidents, Prime Ministers and their envoys expressing their condemnation to the bombing and standing by India at its hour of grief.

Mourning families of murdered personnel (PTI Photo)

Jaish-e-Muhammad stakes claim

The attack struck a bus filled with young recruits heading for deployment in the wintry Kashmir valley. The toll was the highest for a single attack on the security forces.

Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), the group that claimed responsibility for the bus attack, is guilty of some of the worst atrocities in a 30-year conflict in Kashmir that has taken more than 70,000 lives.

The group’s leader, Masood Azhar, lives openly in Bahawalpur in Pakistan, where it runs a seminary, a training camp and a media arm.

As the Economist noted, Pakistan has, over many decades, covertly helped militants infiltrate Jammu & Kashmir.

A mourner of Pankaj Tripathi, a CPRF personnel killed in the attack (PTI Photo)

“India has in the past often supplied Pakistan with actionable intelligence, such as against the perpetrators of a terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008 that left 166 people dead. Pakistan has either done nothing, or limply chastised the culprits and let them go. Mr Azhar himself has at various times been detained, before being quietly released to mould more jihadists. India’s fury is understandable,” the publication said.

How the incident unfolded

According to reports, a convoy of 78 vehicles transporting more than 2500  CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar was travelling on National Highway 44. The convoy had left Jammu around 330 am (IST) and was scheduled to reach its destination before Sunset.

At Lethpora, near Awantipora, around 315 pm (IST), a bus carrying security personnel was rammed by a Mahindra Scorpio SUV carrying explosives. It caused a blast, killing 46 CRPF personnel of the 76th Battalion and injured many others. The injured were moved to the army base hospital in Srinagar.

JeM released a video of the assailant Adil Ahmad Dar (alias Adil Ahmad Gaadi Takranewala or Waqas Commando), a 22-year old from Kakapora, who had joined the group a year earlier. Dar’s family had last seen him in March 2018, when he left his house on a bicycle one day and never returned.

India investigates

The National Investigation Agency dispatched a 12-member team to probe the attack, working with the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Initial investigations suggested that the car was carrying more than 300 kgs of explosives, including 80 kgs RDX, a high explosive, and ammonium nitrate. 

Lt Gen Deependra Singh Hooda, former General Officer-Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army, said that the explosives might have been stolen from a construction site, although he did not rule out the possibility of these smuggled across the border.

State funerals of security personnel killed in the attack were held in their respective native places. The Punjab State Government announced ex-gratia compensation of about US$ 17,000 each to the families of the killed security personnel and a government job to the next of kin.

Punishing Pakistan

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a ‘jaw-breaking response.’

The Federal Government revoked Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nation status and raised customs duty on all Pakistani goods imported to India to 200%. 

It plans to provide the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering with a dossier outlining Pakistan’s involvement in the attack.

Protests  and candle light marches were held across India, New Zealand, United Kingdom and other countries. A delegation of Indian doctors cancelled their visit to Pakistan to attend the 13th Association of Anaesthesiologists Congress, organised by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, in Lahore on March 7, 2019.

Following intelligence inputs, in the early morning hours of 18 February, a joint team comprising 55 Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF and Special Operations Group of India killed two terrorists and two terrorist abettors in an anti-terrorism encounter operation in the ensuing manhunt for the perpetrators in Pulwama.

One of them, Abdul Rasheed Ghazi alias Kamran, was identified as a Pakistani national and was considered the mastermind of the attack and a commander of JeM. In addition, local JeM recruit Hilal Ahmed, along with two sympathisers who housed Ghazi and Ahmed to evade capture, were also shot dead in the encounter.

Four Indian servicemen were killed in the gunfight.

New Zealand Parliament

The New Zealand Parliament unanimously passed a motion on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

Moved by Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, the Motion condemned the terror attack.

‘‘I move the motion that this House condemns February 14 act of terrorism on Indian CRPF leading to large loss of life. We express solidarity with the Government of India at this difficult time as well as offer our deep sympathies to those affected,’’ he said.

Indian Association reacts

Reacting to the Motion, Indian Association of New Zealand conveyed on Facebook its strong appreciation to the people of New Zealand in general and Mr Peters in particular.

Association President Veer Khar said, “The inhuman incident on February 14, 2019, led to the death of 44 Indian soldiers and Pakistan based terrorists took the responsibility for the attack. The soldiers belonging to all faiths dying at the hands of terrorists needs condemnation and the response of New Zealand to be the first Parliament to do so speaks volumes of the New Zealand people.

Mr Khar said that IANZ has members from Kashmir who were forced to leave in 1989-1990 just for being non-Muslims and the wider community feels strange that this genocide is still not getting any attention from the civilised world.

“The community would like to record this ‘friend in need is a friend indeed’ gesture of Mr Peters and thank him and the New Zealand Parliamentarians for passing the Motion. The reaction to this from a common Kiwi Indian, “Yes, my decision to migrate to this great Country is correct and I would do everything to make this country shine. This gesture of Mr Peters in particular will not go unrewarded,” Mr Khar said.

Pakistan must act

It is understandable, too, that India scoffed at a call for dialogue made by Imran Khan,

In a televised speech four days after the attack, Mr Khan scolded India for being hasty to blame its neighbour, promising that if Mr Modi had any evidence, Pakistan would be happy to aid the investigation.

The Economist quoted Indian officials as saying that they are scarcely the only ones to complain of Pakistani perfidy. Indeed, some Pakistanis join them in questioning the sincerity of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“Would you care to order an inquiry independent of how we respond to Delhi about how Jaish continues to recruit and train people for jihad, and runs camps?” tweeted Ayesha Siddiqa, a London-based scholar.

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