Pak investigation team likely to visit India next month

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 ISLAMABAD: A team of Pakistani investigators is likely to visit India next month for collecting evidence relating to alleged involvement of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists in the Pathankot airbase attack.

“The investigation team’s visit is expected,” a senior diplomat told Dawn, adding that dates for the visit were yet to be finalised.

The registration of FIR by the Counter-Terrorism Department of Punjab police has, however, paved the way for the visit of the six-member investigation team constituted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif weeks after the attack on the airbase on Jan 2.

The investigation team will visit the site of the attack and collect evidence related to Indian claim that the terrorist strike was planned in Pakistan and executed by a group of four persons who had crossed the border into Pathankot. The investigators will also meet officials of India’s National Investigating Agency investigating the attack.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit held a meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on Thursday and informed him about the registration of the FIR in the case.

The FIR will provide a legal basis for taking the investigation forward.

The federal government, while seeking the lodging of FIR, had said that “a first information report may be registered …. and investigation may be conducted so as to identify the culprits involved in the offence and bring them to trial in accordance with the law”.

India, a diplomatic source said, was ready to receive the Pakistani team and facilitate it in investigations.

The decision regarding cooperation with Pakistan was taken at a meeting in Delhi presided over by Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in which issues relating to the visit of the Pakistani team were discussed.

Doval has been in touch with his Pakistani counterpart Gen Nasser Khan Janjua since the attack happened. Conversations between the two helped prevent the Pathankot incident turning into a major crisis in the relationship, although it delayed the foreign secretaries’ meeting for deciding timetable and modalities of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

Although there was no formal reaction to the registration of FIR, a diplomatic source said the move had been received well in Delhi, where the authorities were seeing it as a move in the right direction.

India had earlier welcomed the Pakistan government’s crackdown on Jaish-e-Mohammad as “important and positive first step”, but insisted on “credible and comprehensive action against perpetrators of Pathankot attack”.

There is, meanwhile, still no progress on the rescheduling of the foreign secretaries meeting.

The development regarding the registration of FIR has happened at a time when diplomats in Delhi and Islamabad are exploring the possibility of a meeting of Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi in Washington next month on the sidelines of Nuclear Security Summit.

A meeting between the two leaders on the margins of the Climate Change Summit in Paris on Nov 30 initiated a thaw in relations, after which the two countries agreed on resuming the dialogue on outstanding issues under the new name of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

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