According to Dawn quoting a Pakistani government official on January 31, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has offered to share its records on US citizen David Headley to strengthen the case against the eight Pakistani suspects being tried for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but Pakistani officials are sceptical about the efficacy of that evidence.
The official said that Indian authorities are ready to send a dossier on the proceedings of the trial, as well as Headley’s confession, which was recorded by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA). David Headley, a US citizen was sentenced to 35 years in jail by a US federal court in 2013 for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. However, the Indian court pardoned him in December 2015, reportedly in exchange for information on his involvement and on others accused of similar charges. In February, 2009, Pakistan registered a case against 20 suspects for their alleged involvement in the Mumbai attacks. In January 2016, Pakistan asked the Indian government for access to the eyewitnesses and survivors of the Mumbai attacks. However, New Delhi has not responded to the Pakistani request.
On January 30, Pakistani authorities issued orders to place Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief, Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. According to the Pakistan military, the decision to put JuD chief, Hafiz Saeed under house arrest “is a policy decision”.
Hafiz Saeed has a $10m US bounty on his head and is accused by the US and India of masterminding the 2008 attacks on Mumbai that killed 166 people. However, Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks. Hafiz Saeed was initially detained shortly after the attacks, but was released six months later by Pakistani authorities. The UN and the US list JuD as a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). LeT has been banned as a “terrorist” organisation by Pakistan since 2002. In 2008, JuD was listed by Pakistan under a list of organisations subject to UN sanctions, including an assets freeze, arms embargo and international travel ban. Meanwhile, local and international media reported citing senior Pakistani official that Islamabad is facing pressure from the US on the issue, although it has received no direct communication from the new US administration. However, the move has come soon after Donald Trump comes to power in the White House.
During an address in Majitha on January 27, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “We have decided to route the water from the Indus, which currently flows into Pakistan, who do not have the right over this, to the farmers of Punjab, who rightfully deserve it.”
In a related development on January 26, World Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kristalina Georgieva met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad to discuss the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) and the dispute between Pakistan and India over New Delhi’s construction of two hydropower projects. The World Bank Chief said that she had held ‘constructive talks’ with Pakistani leadership on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). She said the World Bank would also help Pakistan and India to find a solution with respect to the Treaty. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed hope that the World Bank would form the Court of Arbitration to resolve the dispute. Pakistan has also asked the World Bank and New Delhi to inform Islamabad of all the dams and hydropower projects proposed by New Delhi on the western rivers. There are growing concerns in Pakistan over two hydroelectric power plants, the Kishanganga and Ratle that India is constructing on the Indus river system in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Earlier on January 20, Pakistan’s National Assembly also adopted a resolution seeking immediate suspension of work on Ratle and Kishanganga hydropower projects and constitution of an arbitration court to resolve the ongoing water dispute between the two countries. Pakistan argues that the designs of the two Indian projects violate both legal and technical provisions of the Treaty. India, however, has opposed Pakistan’s efforts for setting up a court of arbitration.
On January 21, Pakistan in a “goodwill gesture” returned Indian soldier Chandu Babulal Chavan, who crossed the Line of Control (LoC) on September 29, 2016.
According to a statement by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Indian soldier had surrendered his check post in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and crossed the LoC due to severe grievances with his superiors. Under a bilateral arrangement, soldiers who inadvertently cross the LoC are handed over to their side. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the decision was based on humanitarian grounds and the commitment to ensure peace and tranquillity at the LoC and the Working Boundary.
During his address at the Raisina Dialogue on January 17, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India alone cannot walk the path of peace with Pakistan and Islamabad ‘must walk away from terrorism’ if it wants to resume dialogue.
PM Modi also said in a likely reference to Pakistan that countries in the region that export terrorism stand “isolated and ignored.” Meanwhile, talking about his country’s ties with China, PM Modi said, “it was not unnatural for two large neighbouring powers to have some differences but both sides should show sensitivity and respect for each other’s core concerns and interests.” Modi also said that relations between the US and India are witnessing a growth on multiple fronts. He also made a veiled reference to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and said, “Only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved, can regional connectivity corridors fulfil their promise and avoid differences and discord.” However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying dismissed the remarks saying that the projects are meant for regional peace and development.
According to Radio Pakistan on January 7, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, delivered a dossier on India’s interference and terrorism in Pakistan, to the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Pakistan has also asked the UN to restrain India from interfering in Pakistan. The dossier contains evidence of India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW) interference in Pakistan and its involvement in terrorism particularly in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi. Pakistan accuses India of destabilising the country by sponsoring terrorism on its territory and aiding separatist groups in Balochistan. In March 2016, Pakistani security forces had arrested Jhadav, a serving Indian naval officer and an operative of India’s intelligence agency RAW. Jhadav confessed that he was promoting unrest in Balochistan and Karachi and had been working with Baloch insurgents and terrorist organisations. The dossier also contains video evidences of an Indian submarine’s attempted violation of the Pakistani maritime boundary.
The Nation reported on January 6 that India has urged the World Bank to allow a neutral expert for resolving a dispute with Pakistan over the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) as well plans by India to construct two hydel power projects.
The development follows a meeting between World Bank representative, Ian Solomon and officials of India’s External Affairs and Water Resources Ministries in New Delhi. However, Pakistan has rejected suggestions by India for appointing a neutral expert and instead seeks a full court of arbitration maintaining that the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) can only be saved by arbitration. There are concerns in Pakistan over two hydroelectric power plants, the Kishanganga and Ratle that India is constructing on the Indus river system. Pakistan made it explicit that it would not accept any modifications in the IWT after Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman, Vikas Swarup said the implementation of the IWT includes “the redressal of the technical questions and differences,” adding that, “We believe that these consultations should be given adequate time.” Pakistan is worried that India is gaining more time to complete the two disputed projects and would insist later that since the projects are already complete, they could no longer be modified. The Hindu reported on January 14, that Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat accused Pakistan for “disturbing the secular fabric of the country through continued proxy war,” and said that the army is prepared to go the extra mile to ensure safety of the people and their properties. 34 · In a related development on January 6, Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat said during a televised interview that the “ColdStart doctrine exists for conventional military operations.” It is for the first time that any senior official in India has publically acknowledged the existence of the ColdStart doctrine. The ColdStart doctrine envisaged a rapid deployment of Indian forces along Pakistan’s borders in case of any terrorist attack planned from Pakistan. Moreover, it also involves swift infiltration of Indian armed forces into parts of Pakistan’s territory within a short span of time. Pakistan insists that this Doctrine exacerbates Pakistan’s threat perception. India in recent years has invested heavily to operationalise the ColdStart doctrine and has developed cantonments along the international border with Pakistan.
On January 5, Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa dismissed claims by his Indian counterpart about the so-called surgical strikes, calling his assertion ‘self defeating’.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, also cautioned that Pakistan was ready to tackle India’s ‘aggression’. The statement by General Bajwa follows a recent comment by Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat who said that surgical strikes against Pakistan were meant to send out a message and that further strikes could not be ruled out.
During his address to an International Parliamentary Seminar on Kashmir held in Islamabad on January 5, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the world needs to tell India “enough is enough” with regard to its policy towards the freedom movement in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
The Premier termed Kashmir an integral part of Pakistan and the country’s core dispute with India. He urged the international community to implement the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s support for the struggle of Kashmiris for their right to self- determination. PM Sharif also recalled his four-point agenda presented at the UNGA in September 2015. Sharif’s four points included respecting the 2003 ceasefire in Kashmir and at the Line of Control (LoC), restraining threat of use of force, demilitarisation of Kashmir and troops withdrawal from Siachen. Moreover, the Prime Minister stressed that Pakistan’s position had strengthened the Kashmir cause with the international community now asking India to discuss the dispute. Pakistan has long urged global cooperation for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. It also insists that India’s deployment of more than 1 million troops in IOK remains a major obstacle in implementing various UN resolutions on Kashmir.
On January 1, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria criticised India’s move to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar at the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee, terming it a ‘politically motivated proposal’ aimed at “masking its own terrorist activities in Pakistan.”
Zakaria said India’s proposal had “no merit and was primarily aimed at advancing its narrow national agenda.” The Spokesman also added that India was employing terrorism as an instrument of state policy and also remains “involved in perpetrating, sponsoring, supporting, and financing terrorism.” The strong reaction came soon after India’s proposal in the UN to list the JeM chief, Masood Azhar as an UN-designated terrorist. India accuses Masood Azhar for masterminding the January 2016 attack on its airbase in Pathankot. The move against Azhar in the UN was blocked by China which cited lack of “consensus” on the issue. Earlier in October 2016, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Li Baodong in a veiled reference to India had also warned that no country should use counter-terrorism as a tool for “political gains”.