Indicating that Pakistan plans to raise more allegations about India fomenting trouble in Balochistan, Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said on Monday that the arrest of Kulbushan Jadhav, a former naval officer, had revealed a “network operating in Balochistan” and more arrests had been made in the case.
In an interview to an Indian TV channel, Mr. Aziz said the revelations in the case had proved Pakistan’s statements at the U.N., accusing India of sending “state actors” to Balochistan.
“I have said that India is blaming us for non-state actors acting across the border, but in the case of India, it is state actors which are operating in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi and we had even shared some dossiers at the United Nations and the U.S. I think, in that sense, we have now got more concrete evidence. I am sure once evidence is collected, we will share it with India and other interested countries,” Mr. Aziz told CNN-News18, adding that Pakistan would not give India consular access to Mr. Jadhav until investigations were complete.
The External Affairs Ministry did not respond officially to Mr Aziz’s statements, but a senior official called his repetition of the spying allegations “unsubstantiated” and “nothing new.”
Officials said Pakistan must respect the rules on “consular access” to Mr. Jadhav, which India requested weeks ago. “Merely alleging someone is a spy doesn’t detract from them,” the official said.
On March 25, Pakistani military officials announced the arrest of Mr. Jadhav and then released a video showing him admitting to spying for India and contacting Baloch separatist leaders to foment violence there.
India had confirmed Mr. Jadhav’s identity, but denied any government link to him, calling the confession “tutored.”
Since then, Pakistani officials have announced the arrest of several people accused of spying for India in different Pakistani cities, including the arrest of two suspected “RAW agents” in Thatta in Sindh last week.
“The line that India is causing trouble in Pakistan is currently prevalent there, however little we in India believe it and know it to be false,” former RAW chief Vikram Sood told The Hindu .
Others feel the statement from Mr. Aziz indicates a hardening stand on the talks process as well.
“The Jadhav arrest could not have come at a worse time for India-Pakistan talks, which were just recovering from the Pathankot attack. We have seen talks between the NSAs take off, and there was the hope that we would share information on investigations, but now it looks tough,” said the former RAW chief A.S. Dulat.
During the interview, Mr. Aziz said Foreign Secretary-level talks with India were “suspended” but not “cancelled.” Backing Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit’s controversial remarks on the talks, made at a press conference earlier this month, Mr. Aziz said, “Suspending doesn’t mean cancelled or given up. So I think there is no sort of difference [between the High Commissioner and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here]. Obviously, after January, four months have passed so to that extent dialogue is suspended but I hope it will resume soon.”
He added that he hoped a “timetable for the resumption of dialogue” would be announced soon.