Updated: October 27, 2015 4:47:14 pm
The United States has presented Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with evidence that the terror strike in Gurdaspur three months ago was carried out by groups operating from his country, diplomatic sources told The Indian Express.
The evidence, based on Global Positioning System (GPS) sets recovered from the terrorists, was discussed during Sharif’s recent visit to Washington.
Sharif was warned that large-scale civilian fatalities in the attack could have forced India’s political leadership to order cross-border strikes on jihadi training camps and infrastructure, which could have potentially sparked off a full-scale war.
’Pakistani diplomats initially insisted that the Gurdaspur strike had nothing to do with their country. But when the US insisted that the technical data was irrefutable, they argued that there was no official complicity in facilitating it,’ said a Washington-based diplomat.
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The United States, sources said, will push for further assurances on Pakistan’s plans to act against the Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terrorist groups during army chief Raheel Sharif’s upcoming visit to Washington. In the wake of 26/11, the UN Security Council had added Lashkar to a list of organisations all members are obliged to act against.
On the Gurdaspur strike, Indian intelligence agencies had determined that the GPS sets used by the terrorists were first turned on in Sargodha — home to Pakistan’s largest airbase — on July 21, six days before the attack. The sets were then programmed with digital waypoints, which led the attackers across the border to their targets in Punjab.
The United States, however, is yet to respond to Indian requests for more details on the Garmin-made GPS sets, specifically related to where the equipment was sold and when, sources said.
On July 27, three suspected Pakistan-based terrorists attacked a passenger bus and stormed a police station in Gurdaspur’s Dinanagar, killing seven persons including an SP, before being gunned down after a 12-hour firefight.
The terrorists had also planted a mine on a bridge over the railway line to Pathankot, which failed to detonate because it was incorrectly wired. Punjab Police investigators say at least one passenger train passed over the mine before it was discovered.
Following the 26/11 attacks, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have considered authorising strikes against training facilities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, but backed down because of the lack of precise targetting data needed for air strikes. The then army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor is also believed to have told Singh that the army was not prepared for war, which the strikes could have precipitated.
In his election campaign, though, Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to “speak to Pakistan in its own language” if there were future terrorist attacks — last month, Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh announced that the military was prepared for short-duration wars.
The United States’ intelligence community is worried that Indian strikes could escalate into a war, leading Pakistan to use its tactical nuclear weapons against advancing Indian armoured formations, and to counter-strikes. It’s a prospect that the United States has become increasingly concerned with amidst a diplomatic deadlock between New Delhi and Islamabad.
Following Prime Minister Sharif’s summit meeting with President Barack Obama last week, the two leaders issued a joint statement promising that Islamabad would take “effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates as per its international commitments and obligations under UN Security Council resolutions”.
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