Pakistan has accused India of assassinating two anti-Indian militants on Pakistani soil as part of a wider pattern of extrajudicial killings abroad, leading to vehement denials from Delhi.
Islamabad has “credible evidence” that Indian agents were behind the killings of two Pakistani nationals in its territory, Foreign Secretary Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi said Thursday.
India immediately dismissed the allegations as “false and malicious anti-India propaganda.”
Qazi linked the alleged killings to accusations by Canada that Indian agents were involved in the murder of a prominent Sikh activist near Vancouver in June. The U.S. also raised concerns with India after foiling a plot to assassinate another Sikh separatist in New York in November. Sikh separatists advocate for the creation of an independent ethno-religious state in the Punjab.
India has denied being involved in either case, but has said it is looking into the U.S. allegations.
Suspicions grow over India’s security apparatus after killings
A growing list of suspicious deaths of anti-Indian figures in Pakistan has led to questions over whether India’s conservative Hindu-led government is behind a pattern of extrajudicial, extraterritorial killings, despite its consistent denials.
There have been at least 11 targeted killings of anti-Indian activists, militants, or terrorists in Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir since Mar. 2022, Christopher Clary, a professor of political science, wrote in Good Authority.
After being indicted by the U.S. over his alleged role in the New York assassination plot, an Indian agent allegedly directed by a government official told an undercover officer that “we have so many targets.”
“India might just be, or is, the new Israel,” one South Asia expert told the Financial Times, referring to Israel’s security services’ track record of covert operations and assassinations overseas.
Indian crackdown targets Islamist and Sikh opponents abroad
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has elevated his country’s intelligence agency during his decade in power, giving it “a free hand to operate” in targeting the country’s enemies abroad, one Indian security official told The Wall Street Journal.
Pakistan’s allegations center on two alleged members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist militia group with ties to Islamabad’s security apparatus that was behind the deadly 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, the Canadian and U.S. allegations focused on opposition figures from the exiled Sikh community, whose movement to secede has drawn a crackdown by Delhi that some see as overblown and detrimental to its relations with other governments.
While India’s Sikh minority plays an outsized role within the country, “the international [Sikh] threat is still a figment of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s imagination,” journalist Hartosh Singh Bal wrote in Foreign Affairs.