Press Trust of india

Pak protests acquittal of Samjhauta blast accused

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Islamabad, Mar 21:  Pakistan has “strongly protested” the acquittal of all four accused in the 2007 Samjhauta train blast case, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Thursday.

The blast in Samjhauta Express occurred near Panipat in Haryana on February 18, 2007, when the train was on its way to Attari, the last railway station on the Indian side. The blast killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis.

A special court in Panchkula in Haryana acquitted main accused Swami Aseemanand and three others in the case on Wednesday.

“The decision by India’s National Investigation Court has shaken the people. The four accused were acquitted after 11 years, including Swami Aseemanand, who had already confessed his crime,” Qureshi said.

“Pakistan strongly protested on this development and gave a demarche to India,” he told the media in Islamabad.

He said Pakistan was studying the Samjhuta train verdict and weighing its options.

The minister said India blamed Pakistan for the deadly Pulwama attack without any proof but no one accepted the Indian narrative. “I am saying this after talking to several world leaders…India was trying to link it with Pakistan but it failed,” he claimed.

He also said India’s reaction to the Christchurch attack “demonstrates New Delhi’s double standards as it did not even mention the words Muslims or mosques while coneming the attack”, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

Qureshi who returned from China on Thursday after attending the first strategic bilateral dialogue heaped praise on Beijing, terming it as “confidante”.

“We take each other into confidence on all issues. Sometime they guide us and sometimes they change their policy after listening to us,” he said.

Qureshi said he also discussed the issue of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar with China, which used its right of technical hold to stop a move against at the UN level.

China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations (UN) Security Council to designate Azhar as a “global terrorist” by putting a technical hold on the proposal, a move India termed as disappointing.

The JeM has claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead and raised tensions between India and Pakistan.

“As you know, China despite a lot of pressure used the right of technical hold in order to collect more information on the issue…We talked what US, China and UK were thinking about it,” Qureshi said.

He said the two sides held discussion on the Sanction Committee but refused to share details. He said Pakistan was aware what the world wanted on the issue of Azhar.

“We are aware. We know what the world wants, what we should do, what are our interests, and what should be our policy. It (issue of Azhar) should be seen in larger context… It should be seen in the context of money laundering and what FATF is saying because it is all linked,” he said.

Qureshi further said that discussion with China on the issue of Azhar will continue.

He also said that Pakistan was analyzing the contents of the dossier given by India on Pulwama. “We are serious about it and are analysing the dossier and present our findings to you (media) and to the world,” he said.

He said Pakistan was committed to address militancy and eliminate it completely.

Talking about the recently held strategic dialogue with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, he said that its objective was to upgrade political consultations.


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