Indian agents masterminded killings of two Pakistani nationals: Foreign Secretary

Islamabad: Foreign Secretary Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi on Thursday said Pakistani authorities apprehended a group of India backed assassins involved in the killing of two Pakistani nationals in Sialkot and Rawalakot.

At a press briefing here, he said the Indian agents masterminded deaths of two Pakistanis Shahid Latif and Muhammad Riaz in 2023.

The foreign secretary said India was running a sophisticated and sinister campaign of extra-territorial and extra-judicial killings inside Pakistan.

“Indian agents used technology and safe havens on foreign soil to commit assassinations in Pakistan. They recruited, financed and supported criminals, terrorists and unsuspecting civilians to play defined roles in these assassinations,” he revealed.

He stated that these were killing-for-hire cases and involved a sophisticated international set-up spread over multiple jurisdictions”.

He said the assassins were recruited using social media platform Telegram.

Teams of financiers and assassins were employed in the operation, Qazi said, adding that deliberate exit plans were also developed to obscure all potential tracks.

Giving details about the assassinations, he said: “On October 11, 2023, Shahid Latif was assassinated outside a mosque in Sialkot. A detailed investigation revealed that an Indian agent, Yogesh Kumar, based in a third country orchestrated the assassination.”

Qazi said Kumar recruited Muhammad Umair, a labourer in the third country, to act as a contact with local criminals in Pakistan to trace and assassinate Shahid Latif. “They recruited local criminals who were able to locate Shahid Latif, however, they were unable to carry out the execution.”

“After some of the failed attempts, Umair himself was personally sent to Pakistan to carry out the assassination,” the foreign secretary said, adding that Umair organised a team of five target killers and succeeded in assassinating Shahid Latif.

“Based on the confessional statements and technical evidence, law enforcement authorities quickly apprehended the target killers, including Muhammad Umair, who were trying to flee the country on Oct 12, 2023.”

He added that all those involved in the killings were apprehended and a case was being tried in the court of law. “We have evidence of transactions made in the process linking the entire chain to Indian agent Yogesh Kumar,” Qazi said.

Talking about the second assassination, the foreign secretary said another Indian agent was involved in the killing of a Pakistani man, identified as Muhammad Riaz, who was assassinated during Fajr prayers inside a mosque in Rawalakot on September 8, 2023.

“Law enforcement agencies tracked the killer, Muhammad Abdullah Ali, and arrested him on September 15, 2023, while boarding a flight at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi,” Qazi stated, adding that interrogation revealed Ali was recruited and guided by Indian agents Ashok Kumar Anand and Yogesh Kumar.

He said Indian agents used the social media platform Telegram to recruit Ali, claiming that Ali received payments and was provided with weapons and ammunition. Qazi added that the case was being tried in the court of law.

The foreign secretary informed that the investigators identified Ali’s facilitators on the basis of confessional statements and technical evidence. “We have documentary, financial and forensic evidence of the involvement of the two Indian agents who masterminded these assassinations,” he said, adding that the Pakistan government was releasing the passport details of these agents.

Qazi further said that Islamabad had also reached out to the governments of relevant third countries. “There are a few other cases of similar gravity at various stages of investigation,” he added.

He stated that these cases revealed a “growing sophistication and brazenness of Indian-sponsored terrorist acts in Pakistan”, highlighting that such incidents were also reported in Canada and the US. “The Indian network of extra-judicial and extra-territorial killings has become a global phenomenon,” the foreign secretary noted.

Qazi said it was critical to bring the killers, their facilitators and financiers to justice. “India must be held accountable internationally for its blatant violation of international law. India’s assassination of Pakistani nationals on Pakistani soil is a violation of its sovereignty and a breach of the UN charter,” he added.

Qazi said Pakistan remained committed to protecting its people and securing its sovereignty, adding that the protection of Pakistan and any foreign national on Pakistani soil was priority for the government.