Pak ISI responsible for Pathankot attack: Bruce Riedel

New Delhi: Blatantly blaming Pakistan’s intelligence agency for the Pathankot attack, security expert and columnist Bruce Riedel has said that the attack was an attempt to prevent any detente between New Delhi and Islamabad after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise ‘Christmas Day’ visit to Lahore.

Riedel said the attack which lasted for days and claimed the lives of at least seven soldiers was the work of the Pakistani terror group Jaish-e-Muhammad, which was created 15 years ago by the Pakistani intelligence service.

“JEM was created in 2000 by Mualana Masoud Azhar… Azhar was captured in India in 1994 after taking western hostages in Kashmir. In December 1999, a group of terrorists hijacked an Air India jet flying from Nepal to India and diverted it to Afghanistan. They demanded the release of Azhar and his colleagues in return for the passengers and crew,” he wrote for The Daily Beast.

“And they got it, thanks to help from the Pakistani intelligence service ISI and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to accounts of the hijacking based on the Indian officials who negotiated with the terrorists for the hostages’ freedom,” he said.

Riedel said the JEM has received training and weapons from the ISI and worked closely with al Qaeda.

He also elaborated on how the Pakistani Army has long distrusted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for advocating the improved relations with India since the 1990s.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit was the first by an Indian prime minister in more than a decade. It was also Sharif’s birthday and the birthday of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Jinnah.

“So far New Delhi has not cancelled the planned talks. Modi’s advisers are well aware of the double game the Pakistani army plays and the differences inside the Pakistani establishment… The Indians have accepted Prime Minister Sharif’s public condemnation of the attack and promised to provide evidence of JEM’s role to his government, including cellphones captured in the attack,” he added. (ANI)