Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Moeed Yousuf on Sunday alleged that an Indian citizen was behind a powerful bomb blast outside the house of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind and chief of the banned Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Hafiz Saeed in Lahore last month. Three persons were killed and 24 others injured when the powerful car bomb exploded outside Saeed’s residence at the Board of Revenue (BOR) Housing Society in Johar Town in Lahore on June 23. No group claimed responsibility for the blast.
Addressing a press conference alongside the Punjab police chief Inam Ghani and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry here, NSA Yousuf claimed that the mastermind of the attack “is an Indian citizen with links to an intelligence agency. “Through the forensic analysis, electronic equipment, which has been recovered from these terrorists, we have identified the main mastermind and the handlers of this terrorist attack and we have absolutely no doubt or reservation in informing you that the main mastermind belongs to RAW, the Indian intelligence agency, is an Indian national, and is based in India,” he said.
He, however, did not identify the alleged suspect. In the past, the External Affairs Ministry has dismissed Pakistan’s allegations of India’s involvement in some of the terror strikes in that country and said the so-called claims of ‘proof’ are figments of imagination.
The MEA had said that Pakistan’s desperate attempt will find few takers as the international community is aware of its tactics, and proof of Islamabad’s terror sponsorship has been admitted by none other than its own leadership. “This is yet another futile anti-India propaganda exercise. The so-called claims of ‘proof’ against India enjoy no credibility, are fabricated and represent figments of imagination,” a MEA spokesman had said in November last after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi alleged that India was behind some of the terror attacks in that country.
In his press conference, Yousuf said the government had the fake names, real identities and location of the suspects because of efficient coordination between different agencies. Later, Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he had instructed his team to brief the nation on findings of the blast investigation today and said the coordination among civil and military intelligence agencies led to “identifying the terrorists & their international linkages.” Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, has been convicted for 36 years imprisonment in five terror financing cases. His punishment is running concurrently.
Saeed is serving a jail sentence at the Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore for his conviction in terror financing cases. Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. He was listed under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008. Last week, Pakistan’s Punjab government claimed that it unearthed a network of all 10 suspects, including women, involved in the blast outside Saeed’s house.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Inam Ghani said that an “anti-Pakistan intelligence agency” was involved in the Johar Town bombing, but were short of naming it despite reporters’ repeated insistence. IGP Ghani said the hostile agencies had provided financial support to the locals to carry out the terror attack.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, the global anti-money laundering and terror financing watchdog, at the end of its five-day virtual plenary meeting last month retained Pakistan in its grey list for failing to adequately investigate and prosecute leaders of UN-designated terror groups. FATF is instrumental in pushing Pakistan to take measures against terrorists roaming freely in Pakistan and using its territory to carry out attacks in India. Indo-Pak relations deteriorated after India announced withdrawing special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories in August, 2019. India has maintained that issue related to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was entirely an internal matter of the country.