Responding to a question on a report by British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ that claimed Indian intelligence agencies carried out assassinations of terrorists in Pakistan as part of an emboldened approach to national security after 2019, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told ‘CNN’ on April 5, 2024 if terrorists from the neighbouring country try to disturb our peace or undertake terror acts, we will give them a befitting reply. "If they run away to Pakistan, we will enter Pakistan to kill them (yadi woh bhag kar Pakistan mein jayega, toh Pakistan mein ghus kar marenge)," Singh asserted.

This has caused plenty of mirth on social media. One post reads: “If our politicians had any spunk, we would not be in this state.” Another writes: “If wishes could be horses.” A third says, “Mice don’t roar.” Yet another quotes Robert Mugabe, former President of Zimbabwe, who said, “If Adam and Eve were Chinese we would have been in paradise because they would have ignored the apple and eaten the snake.”

Singh always talks of the “surgical strike” and the standoff air strike at Balakot, Pakistan. But both these were retaliatory actions after suffering heavy casualties caused by Pakistani terrorists at Uri and Pulwama respectively. These actions need to be viewed in the backdrop of terrorist incidents in Jammu and Kashmir since 2015.

The South Asia Terrorism Portal shows that since 2015 there were 661 incidents of killings in J&K (135 in 2019, 145 in 2020, 153 in 2021, 151 in 2022, 72 in 2023 and 5 in 2024), 870 terrorists/insurgents killed (163 in 2019, 232 in 2020, 193 in 2021, 193 in 2022, 87 in 2023 and 2 in 2024), 248 security forces killed (78 in 2019, 56 in 2020, 45 in 2021, 30 in 2022, 33 in 2023 and 6 in 2024) and 156 civilians killed (41 in 2019, 33 in 2020, 36 in 2021, 30 in 2022, 12 in 2023 and 4 in 2024).

‘Sheikh Chillis’ are dime a dozen during elections. But isn’t it ironic that not only for our soldiers beheaded in cross-border BAT actions of Pakistan, even Special Forces suffering casualties in terrorist incidents in recent months weren’t allowed to strike across the border to avenge their dead. Can Rajnath Singh explain why?

Supreme Court lawyer-veteran Colonel Amit Kumar points out the case of beheading in J&K, where a local has even confessed to the crime, the case against soldiers for purported custodial death is being allowed to linger on for several months, rather than concluding it, due to vote-bank politics (


Isn’t this criminal? The Defence Minister will say the law is taking its own course, especially after his line “not even one inch of territory lost” in face of the pusillanimous response to the Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh during 2020 became notoriously famous. But what about the pressures on soldiers being held for the purported custodial deaths and beheading? Kumar points out that interrogation in military operations is not custodial but part of the running operation.

‘The Guardian’ says up to 20 assassinations have been carried out in Pakistan since 2020 on orders of the Indian Government, following Canada’s accusation of Delhi’s role in murders of dissidents. The publication claims to have inputs from ‘unnamed’ intelligence officials from both India and Pakistan; which leaders may consider authentic.

However, there is one question that ‘The Guardian’, or anyone supporting these accusations, would be unable to answer. Is the Pakistan Army-Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) so inefficient that despite so many periodic killings (in most cases killers came on motorcycle in broad daylight), they were unable to apprehend any of the perpetrators?

Clearly, this is an ISI feed to the publication. As to the zealous response by Singh to ‘CNN’, someone privy to our intelligence functioning says, “Behti Ganga mein hath dhona ‘Kadi Ninda’ Man ko bhari padega’ (taking undue credit may have consequences)”. Not surprising then that Pakistanis are giving him a cross-border sniper salute in the Pooch area.

The Pakistan Army-ISI is obviously behind these killings. The country is breeding terrorists fast and the newer lot wants more power and control of finances and narcotics, for which the space is limited. Also, the increasing payroll of terrorists, which included older operatives who are not of much use anymore is pinching hard.

Given the United States’ policy of a hug coupled with a backstab, the CIA-MI6-ISI plan could have a dual aim; get more recruits to execute terror attacks in India and/or to kill a high-level official posted in foreign country like Canada or Britain. Destabilising regions and warmongering is a priority of the current American administration. It is no coincidence that the POTUS Joe Biden is palling up to Pakistan by writing the first ever letter to a Pakistani prime minister at the fag end of his presidency.

Canada has again raked up the issue of India’s involvement in the killing of the Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar despite Graeme Menzies, Director of the UK-headquartered Fulcrum Group terming the allegations of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bizarre.

As for Gurpatwant Singh Pannun heading Sikhs For Justice (SFJ); Rahat Rao and Tariq Kiyani are two criminals planted by Pakistan’s ISI in Canada, who together with Pannun were most likely involved in the killing of Nijjarm according to sources, ISI wanted to control the drug business of Nijjar and detested his proximity to Pakistan-based group leaders like Wadhwa Singh and Ranjeet Singh Neeta.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Pannun is alive. What’s great if he is a US citizen? Isn’t America killing foreign nationals at will all over the world? What about the CIA hand in orchestrating the killing of so many Indian scientists including nuclear physicist Dr Homi J Bhabha?

India needs to point this out to the US and Canada, ask them to get off the high horse, and tell them we will hunt rats inimical to India irrespective of their nationality. The only question is will our political hierarchy have the guts to say so, even taking some courage on lease if required?

Lt General Prakash Katoch is an Indian Army veteran. Views expressed here are the writer’s own.