India slams Pak for continuing to shelter 'first accused' in Pulwama attack case

India slams Pak for continuing to shelter 'first accused' in Pulwama attack case
The site on on the Srinagar-Jammu highway where 40 CRPF troopers were killed in an audacious suicide attack by militants in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Feb 14, 2019. File photo/IANS

New Delhi: India on Thursday hit out at Pakistan for continuing to evade responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack and shelter Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, named as the number one accused in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) charge sheet in the case.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava also slammed Pakistan's flip-flop on the presence of Dawood Ibrahim in the country, saying it "lays bare" the insincerity" of Islamabad in responding to legitimate expectations of the world that it will track down international terrorists operating from its soil.

On the Pulwama attack case, Srivastava told an online media briefing that enough evidence has been shared with Pakistan but the country continues to evade responsibility.

"Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed the responsibility of Pulwama attack. The organisation and its leadership are in Pakistan. It is regrettable that Masood Azhar, the first accused in the charge sheet continues to find shelter in Pakistan. Enough evidence has been shared with Pakistan but it continues to evade responsibility," he said.

Forty CRPF personnel were killed in the Pulwama attack on February 14 last year that triggered massive escalation in tension between India and Pakistan.

India struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot on February 26 last year, in response to the attack.

"The charge sheet has been filed after investigation of an year-and-a-half since the attack took place on 14 February, 2019. It has been filed to address the act of terrorism and to bring perpetrators of such a heinous crime to justice. Our aim is not to simply issue statements or notifications," Srivastava said.

The NIA on Tuesday filed a charge sheet in the case, detailing how the attack was planned and executed by JeM. The NIA named Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and several others in the charge sheet.

Srivastava also added that Pakistan has not yet taken any credible action against perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 which had resulted in the loss of 165 innocent lives.

On Pakistan's U-turn on presence of Dawood in the country, Srivastava said Islamabad has never taken "any credible and verifiable action" against terror entities or listed individuals, including the most wanted ones. Ibrahim's name figured in a list of 88 people which was published as a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, later Pakistan rejected media reports saying the SRO list is an acknowledgement of Ibrahim's presence in the country.

"Pakistan's assertion that the SRO does not mean that it admits to the presence of listed individuals on its territory or that it would impose any new measures on these listed individuals, lays bare the insincerity of Pakistan in responding to legitimate expectations of the world that they will track down international terrorists based on its soil," Srivastava said.

He said Pakistan has not only maintained its opposition to this international consensus but it has also chosen not to act against them.

"This subsequent denial by their Foreign Office calls into question their intentions and it would not mislead the world community in believing its propaganda," he said.

"Pakistan must take credible action and ensure that the listed individuals are prosecuted," the MEA spokesperson added.

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