Indian spy agency carried out targeted killings of terrorists in Pakistan, claims report

The MEA denied the claims, calling them "false and malicious anti-India propaganda"

PTI01_31_2023_000014A Representation. Pakistan army personnel.

The Indian government carried out targeted killings in Pakistan as part of its wider strategy to eliminate terrorists living on foreign soil, according to a report by UK-based Guardian. This reportedly involves the assassinations of 20 individuals in Pakistan since 2020, carried out by unknown gunmen. 

However, the claims were rubbished by the Ministry of External Affairs. 

The report, published Thursday, quoted Indian and Pakistani intelligence operatives who claimed that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) began to carry out such assassinations as part of an emboldened approach to national security after 2019. Guardian also claims to possess detailed documentation that allegedly hints at RAW's direct involvement in these activities, which also covers Sikh separatists in the Khalistan movement.

The report quoted Pakistani investigators who claimed these deaths were orchestrated by Indian intelligence sleeper cells mostly operating out of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These sleeper cells reportedly paid millions of rupees to local criminals or poor Pakistanis to carry out the assassinations. Indian agents also allegedly recruited jihadists to carry out the shootings, making them believe they were killing "infidels".

Two Indian intelligence officers, who spoke to the newspaper, added that RAW's shift to focusing on dissidents abroad was triggered by the Pulwama attack in 2019. "After Pulwama, the approach changed to target the elements outside the country before they are able to launch an attack or create any disturbance," an unnamed Indian intelligence operative told the Guardian. "We could not stop the attacks because ultimately their safe havens were in Pakistan, so we had to get to the source." He added that such operations required needed approval from the highest level of government.

The officer added that India drew inspiration from intelligence agencies such as Israel’s Mossad and Russia’s KGB, which have been linked to extrajudicial killings on foreign soil. He added that the killing of the Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in 2018 in the Saudi embassy, had been directly cited by Raw officials.

"It was a few months after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi that there was a debate among the top brass of intelligence in the prime minister’s office about how something can be learned from the case. One senior officer said in a meeting that if Saudis can do this, why not us?" he told the Guardian.

The report also quotes two separate Pakistani intelligence agencies which claimed they suspected India’s involvement in up to 20 killings since 2020. They pointed to evidence which included witness testimonies, arrest records, financial statements, WhatsApp messages and passports. The Guardian added that the documents could not be independently verified.

The meetings of RAW handlers overseeing the killings are also said to have taken also place in Nepal, the Maldives and Mauritius. "This policy of Indian agents organising killings in Pakistan hasn’t been developed overnight," said a Pakistani official. "We believe they have worked for around two years to establish these sleeper cells in the UAE who are mostly organising the executions. After that, we began witnessing many killings."

However, Pakistan had been reluctant to publicly acknowledge the killings as most of the targets are known terrorists and associates of outlawed militant groups that Islamabad has long denied sheltering. 

MEA Statement

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) denied all the allegations, reiterating an earlier statement that they were "false and malicious anti-India propaganda". In a statement to Guardian, the MEA emphasised a previous denial made by Foreign Minister, S Jaishankar, that targeted killings in other countries were "not the government of India’s policy".

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