Sunday, July 04, 2021
Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yusuf on Sunday briefed the nation on intelligence gathered on the blast that took place in Lahore's Johar Town, saying that the main mastermind behind the attack is an Indian citizen and has clear links with RAW.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Yusuf who began in Urdu, also spoke in English at the end, to ensure that the international community has a clear idea of the findings.
"I want to make sure that our message is heard very clearly [regarding] this particular incident on the 23rd of June in Lahore. We have concrete evidence and intelligence, including financial and telephone records that point to direct Indian sponsorship of these terrorists.
"Through forensic analysis, electronic equipment which has been recovered from these terrorists, we have identified the main mastermind and the handlers of this terrorist attack and we have absolutely no doubt or reservation in informing you that the main mastermind belongs to RAW, the Indian intelligence agency, is an Indian national, and is based in India," he said.
Yusuf said that he would like to remind everyone that "Indian use of territory and people of third countries, which actually embarrasses other countries, is not new".
"We have been constantly reminding the world of Indian actions, including a detailed dossier that was put out last November with details — minute details — of finances, of action, of support coming from India," said the national security adviser.
He drew attention to the recent report by EU DisinfoLab, an international reputed organisation, which provides a detailed account of how "hundreds and thousands of fake outlets were being used to malign Pakistan, to spread misinformation about Pakistan, and to hide what is actually a clear terrorist sponsorship by a state against another state in our region".
Yusuf said that "very unusually" there is also evidence of "thousands of attempts of cyber attacks against our critical investigative infrastructure right after this attack on the 23rd in Lahore".
"These attacks and the number and the sophistication in some cases leaves no doubt of state sponsorship and state linkage in this case."
He said that Pakistan's cybersecurity was strong enough to thwart the attempts but asked why the attacks took place, before going on to provide an answer.
"They were being conducted because our enemies wanted to buy time to deflect attention and to avoid the apprehending and capture of these terrorists that we managed to do," said the national security adviser.
Yusuf also pointed out the "drama" of mysterious drones flying in the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir territory.
"What was the logic, is now very clear, and again with confidence we can put it out, that was a deflection tactic trying to divert attention of the world from the fact and they knew at that time we had not only apprehended culprits but we knew exactly what had been done behind the scenes and who was behind it."
The adviser said that the main executor, Eid Gul, has an Afghan origin and was living in Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan has constantly been flagging for the world the concern that "millions of law abiding Afghan refugees are given a bad name and Pakistan is blamed when these actors go and hide in these refugee settlements and then Pakistan is questioned on why one or two or five people who were miscreants, who were terrorists could not be apprehended".
Yusuf said that Pakistan reminds the world "of their duty to find a way for a dignified return of Afghan refugees and then questions may be asked".
"Till then, this is a very good example of the complication when something like this occurs," he said.
Yusuf said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed his team "to use all possible legal and political means to get to the people outside Pakistan who are part of this international terrorist network".
"We will therefore be sharing all evidence with the international community and exposing the nefarious and real face of a state in our neighbourhood that has constantly sponsored terrorism against our innocent civilians."
The adviser called upon the international community to play its part saying it is "high time" it "stop turning a blind eye and play a constructive and the legally binding role for the safety of innocent Pakistanis if they are really serious about peace and stability in the region".
Prior to Yusuf's briefing, Inspector General of Police Inam Ghani provided an account of the events leading up to the blast.
Ghani noted that the blast occurred at 11:09am on June 23 in Block E of Johar Town and a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) was used. As a result of the explosion, three citizens were killed and 22 were injured, including two policemen.
The explosion also destroyed 12 cars and seven houses.
He said that the police's Counter Terrorism Department was immediately deployed to the site and it quickly cordoned off the area and established an operational base.
"Punjab's CTD has long been working on counter terrorism and is at that stage of maturity where it can very quickly and capably connect the dots. As a result of this, not only did they unearth the entire plan [by the terrorists] within 16 hours of the incident, but also identified the names of all those involved."
He then proceeded to point to a chart which showed the terrorist network involved in the attack.
IG Ghani said that the boxes in red indicate those people outside of Pakistan who financed, planned and thought out the whole attack.
The ones in yellow are those who executed the plan in Pakistan, he said.
Among those, speaking of Peter Paul David, he said that the 56-year-old is a resident of Karachi. "He has spent most of his time abroad. He even ran a three-star hotel and arranged cabaret (form of theatrical entertainment) there," said Ghani.
"He also did some steel works for a while [...] he is the linchpin that connects the operation in Pakistan to the actors abroad," said the police chief.
IG Ghani said that when Paul was issued instructions, he chose a car which was snatched in 2010 and was found in 2011 with a tampered engine, following which it changed two to three more hands. It was then on superdari (released to owner by court pending trial).
"So it was the ideal car for such conditions. Even if it was used throughout the country, there were genuine superdari documents. So he sought such a vehicle and the people through whom he got to the vehicle, are also known to us," he said.
The Punjab police chief said that work on the car's engine was done and then it was given test runs so it does not experience a glitch at the last minute.
He said details of all the financing, the telephone calls, and WhatsApp calls were gathered by the police.
IG Ghani said that the car was handed over to Eid Gul, the executor of the attack. He gave the car a dry run in Lahore and then fixed the explosives onto it. "He had specifics of where to go, where to park the car."
On the 21st, there was no explosive material on the car, but he carried out a reconnaissance of the area to ascertain all the entry and exit points, said Ghani.
Then on the 22nd, he did another reconnaissance on a rickshaw to familiarise himself with the area even further.
Ghani said that even though Gul is an Afghan national, he spent his entire life in Punjab, "so his language skills are very strong".
"Whenever he interacted with anyone, he spoke Punjabi and no one suspected him."
On D-Day, the 23rd, he brought over the prepared car from Islamabad. The police have gathered intel on where in the capital this was done, how it was done, the material he had and the fact that he was aided by his wife, said the police chief.
He noted that Gul came throughout the motorway and the motorway is such that there is no interaction between travellers and local law enforcement one you get on it. The only interaction, if any, is with motorway police. "So he spent the next 12 hours on the motorway, stopping in between at a rest area."
"So instead of using Punjab's inner roads, where there was a high likelihood he could have been stopped at any police checkpoint, he used the motorway and landed ultimately at the site of the blast."
CCTV footage shows the black car being parked in front of a house under construction. Ghani said that he parked it in a spot where it was positioned between the police mobile and the police picket, so at the time of the blast, the shrapnel hit both.
He then pointed to the house, a view of which was also recorded by the CCTV camera. It can be seen that the car, which was laden with 20 kilogrammes of explosives, is no longer visible anywhere. "Not even a single piece of the car can be seen," said Ghani.
The Punjab police chief then spoke of how initial reports erroneously mentioned the use of a rickshaw, which had also been parked in the street. He said that in the photo, very small pieces of the car can be seen, a split which normally does not occur, "which shows us what an expert he was in preparing the car".
IG Ghani said that all the people involved within Pakistan have been apprehended, while the police are investigating some additional names that surfaced to see whether they are innocent or if they too were involved.
"But the entire cell is right before us like an open book and we have full knowledge of their actions," he said.
Ghani also played audio clips of the telephone exchanges that took place between the conspirators.
Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, while addressing the briefing, said that "Pakistan has fought a war against terrorism and our efforts are plain for all to see".
"After the arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav, we already had strong evidence for the impression that India has a big hand in the terrorism in Pakistan," he said.
"Unfortunately incidents keep on occurring, which time and again prove that India's establishment, its current government, is fully supporting the terrorist network in Pakistan," the minister went on to say.
He congratulated the IG Punjab and noted that it was the combined efforts by all the agencies and security forces and other institutions as a result of which all the linkages were exposed "and we found out India's direct involvement" in this.
"The gang active in Pakistan has been busted and the close coordination between Punjab Police, CTD, MI, ISI has resulted in our success," Fawad said.