ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has said that it will decide whether or not to allow Indian investigators to visit the country in connection with their probe into a deadly terror attack on an Indian airbase after Eid-ul-Fitr.
On January 2, 2016, a heavily armed group attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the India’s Western Air Command, killing six Indian security personnel.
New Delhi has blamed Pakistan-based jihadi group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) for orchestrating the brutal assault.
A high-level meeting to be attended by top civil and military officials will be convened by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after he returns from London to discuss an India’s request for a visit by its investigators and issues related to bilateral dialogue between the two neighbours, reports the Express Tribune.
The Express Tribune has quoted a senior official, who is part of the government’s core team dealing with India, that the meeting would decide whether to allow a team from India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) to travel to Pakistan for carrying forward the probe into the Pathankot attack.
A five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan had visited India between March 27 and 31 to collect evidence with regard to the attack.
The team comprising officials from police and intelligence agencies had met officials from National Investigation Agency in New Delhi and had also been given access to the Pathankot airbase where the attack took place.
Islamabad, however, contended that its investigators were given limited access as they were not allowed to meet eyewitnesses.
New Delhi, in return requested Pakistan to allow its investigators to visit the country to question alleged masterminds of the attack including JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother.
So far, Pakistan has not officially responded to the Indian request.
One of the reasons behind the government’s reluctance has been reported that it thinks India may use the visit to ridicule Pakistan.
“We will take the final decision after Eid,” the Express Tribune quoted an official as saying.
The official on being asked about the prospects of resumption of the bilateral dialogue said India appears to be ‘hiding behind the Pathankot incident.’
The Pathankot attack led to the cancellation of crucial foreign secretary-level talks, which were to take place in mid-January.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last week at a news conference in New Delhi said that foreign secretary-level talks were not cancelled but New Delhi is only awaiting probe from Pakistan side on the Pathankot attack.
Though the prospects of resumption of talks at present are at grim, officials are hoping that the both nations will eventually return to the negotiating table before the next Saarc summit scheduled to be hosted by Pakistan in November this year.