Pakistan slams Indian minister’s remarks on pursuing suspects across border

Islamabad said the comments undermine peace and impede the prospect of constructive engagement.

India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks
Defence Minister Singh's comments came after media reports saying the India had killed about 20 people in Pakistan since 2020 [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Pakistan has denounced “provocative remarks” made by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who said in an interview that India would enter Pakistan to kill anyone who escapes over its border after trying to carry out attacks.

Singh’s comments on Friday came after the Guardian newspaper published a report stating that India had killed about 20 people in Pakistan since 2020 as part of a broader plan to target “terrorists residing on foreign soil”.

“India’s assertion of its preparedness to extra-judicially execute more civilians, arbitrarily pronounced as ‘terrorists’, inside Pakistan constitutes a clear admission of culpability,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Saturday.

The ministry also said that such “myopic and irresponsible behaviour” not only undermines regional peace but also impedes the prospect of constructive engagement in the long term.

“Pakistan stands resolute in its intent and ability to safeguard its sovereignty against any act of aggression,” the ministry added.

During his interview with local broadcaster CNN News18 on Friday, the Indian defence chief was asked about the Guardian report, and responded: “If they run away to Pakistan, we will enter Pakistan to kill them.”

“India always wants to maintain good relations with its neighbouring countries … But if anyone shows India the angry eyes again and again, comes to India and tries to promote terrorist activities, we will not spare them,” Singh added.

Tense relations

Pakistani security officials, speaking to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity, acknowledged at least six killings took place in 2023, and two in the year before.

They said they believed these killings were carried out by a “hostile intelligence agency” – code for India’s external spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing – and were investigating.

Relations between India and Pakistan have worsened since a 2019 suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir was traced to Pakistan-based fighters and prompted New Delhi to carry out an air raid on what it said was a fighter base in Pakistan.

Pakistan said earlier this year it had credible evidence linking Indian agents to the killing of two of its citizens on its soil. India said it was “false and malicious” propaganda.

Canada and the United States last year accused India of killing or attempting to kill people in those countries.

Canada said in September that it was pursuing “credible allegations” linking India to the death of a Sikh separatist leader shot dead in June – claims that India said were “absurd and motivated”.

A top Canadian official said in January that India was cooperating in the matter and bilateral ties were improving.

The US similarly said in November that it had thwarted an Indian plot to kill a Sikh separatist leader and announced charges against a person it said had worked with India to orchestrate the attempted murder.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said India will investigate any information it receives on the matter.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies