Islamabad on Friday, besides raising its rhetoric on Kashmir, lodged a protest with New Delhi over the purported decision of India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) not to oppose the bail plea of Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blasts.
Pakistan also summoned New Delhi’s Deputy High Commissioner to Islamabad J P Singh on Friday.
Singh had a meeting with Muhammad Faisal, Director General (South Asia), of the Pakistani foreign ministry, who lodged a formal protest against the decision of the NIA not to oppose the bail granted to Aseemanand. The NIA took the step as it did not find any grounds for it, the government had informed the Lok Sabha recently.
Sixty-eight people, including 42 Pakistanis, were killed in the explosions on the Samjhauta Express on February 19, 2007.
Islamabad’s protest on Friday indicated its plan to use the bail granted to Swami Aseemanand to counter New Delhi’s charges that its lack of seriousness has slowed the 26/11 trial in Pakistan and led to the release of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in April.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday greeted the people of Pakistan on the occasion of the country’s 69th independence day. “Greetings and good wishes to the people of Pakistan on their Independence Day,” said Modi, who had met his Pakistani counterpart M Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in Russia last month and agreed upon a roadmap of engagement.
But even as Modi greeted the neighbouring country, Sartaj Aziz, the Foreign Affairs and National Security Advisor to PM Sharif, who is set to meet his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval in New Delhi this month to take up issues related to terrorism, raised a pitch on Kashmir.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, too, stressed Kashmir during his independence day speech, saying: “No matter how much more time their legitimate struggle takes, Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause.”
No sweets were, however, exchanged between the soldiers of the two neighbours at the borders during the day, unlike in the past.