Pakistan on Thursday blamed India for a “sophisticated and sinister” campaign of “extra-territorial and extra-judicial killings” on its soil, unveiling evidence of links between Indian agents and assassination of two Pakistani nationals.
“These were killings-for-hire cases involving a sophisticated international setup spread over multiple jurisdictions,” Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi told a press conference from Islamabad. He said Indian agents had used technology and safe havens on foreign soil to commit these assassinations in Pakistan, adding they had “recruited, financed and supported” criminals, terrorists and unsuspecting civilians to achieve this.
Noting Indian media and social media accounts had claimed and glorified these killings as “retribution” against its “enemies,” he alleged the assassins were recruited via social media, talent spotters and fake Da’esh accounts. “There was complete compartmentalization of the various components of the operation with employment of teams of financiers, locators, and assassins. Elaborate exit plans were developed to obscure all potential tracks,” he said, sharing evidence of two cases, while stressing an investigation was ongoing for a few other similar cases.
The first case revealed by Qazi was that of Shahid Latif, who was assassinated on Oct. 11, 2023 outside a mosque in Sialkot. An investigation, he said, had found the involvement of Indian agent Yogesh Kumar, who orchestrated the assassination from a third country through criminals and terrorists. Kumar, per the secretary, recruited laborer Muhammad Umair from the same third country to hire local criminals in Pakistan for the tracing and assassination of Latif.
After the recruited local criminals failed to execute Latif, he said, Umar was directed to travel to Pakistan personally and complete the assassination. “Umair organized a team of five target killers which after first failed attempt on Oct. 9, 2023, succeeded in assassinating Shahid Latif on Oct. 11, 2023,” he added.
Qazi said law enforcers had arrested all the killers using confessional statements and technical evidence and were trying them in courts. “We have evidence of transactions made in the process linking the entire chain to Indian agent Yogesh Kumar,” he added.
The second case unveiled by the foreign secretary was that of Muhammad Riaz, who was shot dead at a mosque in Rawalakot on Sept. 8, 2023. He said the killer, Muhammad Abdullah Ali, was tracked and apprehended on Sept. 15, 2023, while trying to flee the country from Karachi.
“Interrogation revealed that Muhammad Abdullah Ali was recruited and guided by Indian agents Ashok Kumar Anand and Yogesh Kumar,” he said, alleging the killer was recruited through Telegram. Ali, he said, received payments through middlemen based in a third country and was also provided weapons and ammunition. “After a failed attempt on Sept. 7, 2023, Ali succeeded in killing Riaz on Sept. 8, 2023,” he added.
Qazi said Ali and his supporters and facilitators were arrested from various cities of Pakistan and the case was currently underway in court. “Based on confessional statements of Ali and technical evidence, the investigators quickly identified the facilitators in Pakistan as well as in third countries,” he added.
Stressing Pakistan had “documentary, financial and forensic evidence” proving the involvement of the two Indian agents, the foreign secretary released the passport details of Yogesh and Ashok. He said Islamabad was also in touch with the governments of the relevant third counties.
Based on the evidence available, said Qazi, both cases revealed the “growing sophistication and brazenness of Indian sponsored terrorist acts” inside Pakistan. Stressing they matched the pattern of similar killings reported from the U.S. and Canada, he said this indicated the “Indian network of extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings has become a global phenomenon.”
Acknowledging that Pakistan was a target of such extra-judicial killings “for some time now,” he said these two cases showed “an increased sophistication.” Emphasizing on the need to bring to justice the killers, their facilitators and financers, he stressed that the Indian agents must face justice for their extra-judicial and extra- territorial killings in Pakistan and other countries.
“India’s assassination of Pakistan nationals on Pakistani soil is violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a breach of the U.N. Charter. This violation of Pakistan sovereignty by India is completely unacceptable,” he emphasized, calling for global accountability of India for its blatant violations of international law.
“Pakistan remains committed to protecting its people and securing its sovereignty. Protection of Pakistanis and any foreign national on Pakistani soil is a high priority for the Government of Pakistan,” he said, adding India’s “reckless and irresponsible act” called into question its claims for claims for enhanced global responsibilities and reliability as a credible international player.