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India welcomes Pakistan probe of airbase attack

NEW DELHI: Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Thursday during a press conference said the Indian government welcomes Pakistan’s move to form a special investigation team to probe the Pathankot air base attack and will cooperate with Pakistan in the inquiry.

“We look forward to the visit of the Pakistani Special Investigation Team (SIT). We will extend it our full cooperation,” Swarup told reporters.

Swarup also said the expected meeting between India and Pakistan’s foreign secretaries has been rescheduled to “sometime in the near future”.

The spokesperson elaborated that the decision to reschedule the talks has been made mutually, and is not a unilateral decision by India. Responding to a question, Swarup stated that he does not have any information regarding the meeting of the national security advisers (NSA) prior to the foreign secretaries meeting.

“The foreign secretary spoke to his Pakistani counterpart and they agreed to reschedule talks in the near future.”

Swarup also stated that the NSAs of both nations have been in regular contact in recent days, when asked if the NSAs have spoken on the phone.

Answering another question, Swarup categorically denied that the foreign secretaries of the two nations have met in the past few days, following the attack on the Indian airbase.

He said the Indian intelligence agencies will work with Pakistan and provide all support. “Action taken against Jaish-e-Mohammad is an important and positive first step.”

“We have given actionable intelligence to Pakistan regarding all people associated with the Pathankot attack,” stated the spokesperson.

The Indian foreign ministry spokesperson expressed hope that Pakistan will continue its investigations into the airbase attack and bring all perpetrators to justice.

Answering another question regarding Pakistan’s offer to send a SIT, Swarup stated that India welcomes Pakistan’s offer, but the modalities of SIT’s visit, their mandate and access to information will be decided at a later date.

Foreign secretaries of both countries were scheduled to meet in Islamabad on Jan 14-15, 2016.

The government of Pakistan said on Wednesday that it had started a crackdown on the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which had been accused by India of being involved in the attack on the Pathankot airbase.

The government statement, which followed a nationalsecurity meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharifto discuss the actions taken on the leads provided by India, had also said that Pakistan is considering to send a special investigation team to Pathankot, in consultation with the government of India.

At least seven Indian military personnel were killed in the first week of January during an explosion and days long gunbattle at India’s Pathankot air base near the border with Pakistan.

The attack took place a week after Indian Prime MinisterNarendra Modi made a stopover in Lahore to wish Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and attend the latter’s granddaughter’s wedding at Jati Umra.

Prime Minister Nawaz had later assured Modi that Islamabad would not hesitate to take “prompt and decisive action” if the involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the attack on the Indian airbase was proved beyond doubt.


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