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“Extrajudicial Killing: Responding to India’s Actions”

Qamar Bashir

By: Qamar Bashir

In January 2024, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary made a significant revelation, alleging that India had orchestrated at least 12 extrajudicial killings in Pakistan linked to the Kashmir cause and the Khalistan movement. This disclosure marked the third high-profile accusation against India following similar allegations involving Canada and the United States. By engaging in these unlawful acts, India has aligned itself with countries like the USA, Russia, and Israel, known for eliminating adversaries both domestically and internationally with impunity.

The statement made by Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary made in January this year did not gain significant traction and was dismissed within and outside the country as routine accusations exchanged between the two countries for political point-scoring, lacking substantial evidence.

The Foreign Secretary’s statement was vindicated when similar allegations were corroborated by an investigative report by “The Guardian,” on April 4, 2024 disclosing that nearly 20 killings in Pakistan since 2020 were attributed to India. The Guardian report was authenticated when in a revealing interview with CNN, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh admitted to carrying out extrajudicial killings and warned of similar actions in Pakistan if terrorists sought refuge there after committing acts of terrorism. While aimed at Pakistan, this admission hinted at India’s readiness to extend such operations across international borders, including in the territories of influential nations like the USA and Canada.”

The narrative of the Indian espionage agency was compelling. This is how the narrative unfolds. India has successfully managed the rebellion and insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and has, for the most part, tightened its grip over Sikh separatists inside the nation. However, neutralizing their handlers—who were mostly based in Pakistan, the US, and Canada—was a more pressing issue.  To resolve the issue, the Indian government authorized RAW to conduct covert operations to kill firebrand Sikh and Kashmiri leaders and handlers, in the US, Canada, and Pakistan motivated by the KGB, Mossad, and CIA, which are notorious for eliminating its enemies abroad.

The Raw launched strikes in three distinct nations as part of Compliance. It eliminated Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a well-known Sikh activist who was shot and killed in Vancouver, Canada, in September of 2023. On 30 Nov, 2023,  RAW enlisted the help of a hitman in New York to murder Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, another Sikh activist, but before the killer had accomplished the task, the US security forces frustrated the attack.

The Raw was particularly careful while targeting Pakistan. It First created sleeper cells in the UAE, later established a system to finance the killing spree through Dubai, Nepal, and Mauritius. Later, it cultivated local criminals, Afghan illegal aliens, and Jihadis to carry out the assassinations of individuals primarily connected to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, allegedly linked with masterminding high profile terrorist attacks inside India.

The narrative, while seemingly logical and compelling, ultimately failed to achieve its objectives in any of the three cases. Canada and the United States reacted assertively, issuing stern warnings to India and demanding accountability for the masterminds, financiers, and RAW operatives involved in the killings. Canada went a step further by expelling the Indian Ambassador and downgrading diplomatic and economic ties. This action could potentially jeopardize Canadian Investment of $3,754.05 Mn and Bilateral trade of $9.9 Bn in 2022 with India. Similarly, strained relations with the United States  will impact Indian exports of $118.8 billion and US investments totaling $63.03 billion.

The Guardian report garnered significant attention in Pakistani media, becoming the main topic of prime-time talk shows, however, the Pakistani government did not provide its official response until the next day, when the Foreign Office spokesperson issued a detailed press release beginning with customary rhetoric, but later offered specific details about two assassinations: that of Shahid Latif and Mohammad Riaz.

In both cases, a RAW agent stationed abroad recruited a professional killer in Pakistan, who then assembled a team of target killers responsible for targeted assassination. In both the cases, assassins were apprehended, leading to the disclosure of the entire plan to Pakistani authorities.

The Press Release primarily drafted for consumption of the media ended with a safe, calibrated and measured customary response, where it condemned India, charged it for breaking the United Nation Charter, violating the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan and international diplomatic norms, and calling on the international community for collective action to hold India accountable. However,  it fell short of outlining Pakistan’s concrete counteractions.

While behind closed doors, the government must be thinking of adopting a firm and strategic approach, drawing inspiration from the responses of Canada and the United States to similar incidents and giving a befitting response to India.

Though the diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan have already been downgraded, however, similar to Canada’s expulsion of the Indian Ambassador and reduction of diplomatic ties, Pakistan may be considering diplomatic measures to register its protest.

Pakistan-India economic ties have already been downgraded, and this development has impeded any possible efforts through formal or informal channels to reconnect any meaningful trade, investment and business ties.

Pakistan must be actively engaging with the international community, particularly through the United Nations and other multilateral forums, to raise awareness and seek support for holding India accountable for its actions. This could involve filing formal complaints or seeking resolutions condemning India’s violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

The Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) on its part must be conducting thorough investigations to uncover any other instances of foreign interference or covert operations on Pakistani soil. This could involve strengthening counterintelligence measures and monitoring suspicious activities more closely and developing appropriate, proportional and effective countermeasures as deterrent to any such attack in future.

While maintaining restraint and prioritizing de-escalation, the Pakistani armed forces must have already increased vigilance and readiness to defend the country’s sovereignty against potential threats or provocations. This may have included enhancing border security, and maintaining preparedness to respond effectively to any hostile actions, similar to the responses against past airspace violations by India, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s response should be calculated, strategic, and focused on exposing India’s misconduct on the international stage while ensuring the protection of Pakistan’s national interests and security besides increasing collaboration with allied nations and multiplying diplomatic efforts aimed at garnering support and achieving accountability for India’s extrajudicial actions.

By: Qamar Bashir

Press Secretary to the President (Rtd)

Former Press Minister at Embassy of Pakistan to France

Former MD, SRBC






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