Pakistan responded sharply to the > statement by Home Minister Rajnath Singh about “concrete evidence” of the Gurdaspur attackers coming from Pakistan.
Calling Mr. Singh's statement in parliament a “threat to peace and security in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said India should share “any concrete evidence” with the government of Pakistan in the case. Interestingly Mr. Rajnath Singh had stopped short of blaming the government for the attack, focussing only on evidence that the attackers had crossed over the border via the Ravi river.
Officials told The Hindu the evidences had been assessed on the basis of GPS devices found with the terrorists, intercepts of the time the attack was launched and other equipment and explosives found with the them. A senior official also said,” Let there be no doubt that we believe an armed intrusion of this kind has to be supported by the Pakistan Army. That has become an article of faith.” Officials maintain that Indian response to attacks from Pakistan will be “forceful and effective,” quoting Foreign Secretary Jaishankar earlier this month, which has increased speculation over the nature of that response. However, it is significant that neither PM Modi nor the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj have spoken or tweeted on the terror attack, which is seen as an indicator the government doesn’t wish to ratchet up tensions yet.
Baseless assertions In his statement, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson accused India of making “baseless”, “unsubstantiated and unwarranted” assertions on the men crossing over from Pakistan, adding that India has a “tendency” to blame Pakistan for all terrorist attacks in India. “To tackle terrorism a cooperative approach is required,” said Mr. Khalilullah, adding that a “Blame game and finger-pointing would be unhelpful.”
Despite the angry words on both sides, that have only added to tensions between India and Pakistan over border and LoC firing, both Indian and Pakistani diplomats insist the talks process agreed to by Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif in Ufa will go ahead as planned. Sources told The Hindu that both sides have already discussed possible dates in the second half of August for Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz to travel to Delhi to meet NSA Ajit Doval. “We don't see the NSA talks becoming a victim of the [Gurdaspur] incident,” said a Pakistani official adding that Pakistan expects a “fruitful meeting”. “The idea is to set the contours of future engagements by addressing all issues of concern. Terrorism will of course be on the agenda.”
The Pakistani contention is at variance with the Indian understanding that the NSAs are tasked only with a discussion of “terrorism in all its forms” as the statement issued in Ufa said. To that end, Indian officials have been preparing extended dossiers on the 26/11 investigation, other terror attacks, and cross-border attacks. The Hindu has learnt that dossiers on terror financing by Pakistan are also going to be discussed. On the Pakistani side, officials say Mr. Aziz will bring what they claim is evidence of Indian involvement in the Baloch insurgency, and alleged aid to terror outfits in Pakistan.