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US says Pakistan to determine own timeline for Pathankot probe

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WASHINGTON: A US State Department spokesman on Thursday said it was up to the Pakistan government to determine how long it would take to investigate the attack on the Pathankot air base following information provided by India.

The statement comes as India on Thursday said it was awaiting Pakistan’s response on the information provided on the Pathankot incident, following which it will decide on the resumption of bilateral talks scheduled for later this month.

India’s foreign ministry said Islamabad has been given actionable intelligence that those who planned the assault came from Pakistan.

“As far as we are concerned, the ball is now in Pakistan’s court,” spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters when asked if the talks were on. “The immediate issue in front of us is Pakistan’s response to the terrorist attack.”

The US State Department spokesman said Pakistan has condemned the attack and has made clear its commitment to investigate it.

“It’s not for us to ascribe a timeline to somebody else’s investigation,” spokesman John Kirby said in response to a question at a regular briefing.

“Obviously, in all investigations, you want it to be thorough and you want it to be complete,” he added.

“Let us let them do that, and let’s see where the investigation goes,” he said. “We obviously would like to see it investigated too, as completely and as thoroughly as possible so we can better understand what happened.”

Kirkby added that Pakistan was familiar with the threat of terrorism and should be trusted.

“We’ve talked about this. Soldiers have been killed. Innocent Pakistani civilians have been killed by terrorists and continue to be,” he said, adding that terrorism was a “regional challenge” that required real regional solutions which he said he felt Pakistan should directly be a part of.

He clarified that it was up to the Pakistan government to determine a timeline for their investigation.

“It’s more important to us as it is in our own investigative issues here in the United States that it be a good, solid, thoughtful and comprehensive investigation, not that it be done by a certain timeline,” he added.

The spokesman said emphasis should be placed on getting the investigation done “right” rather than “fast”.

“We are cognisant of that when we conduct investigations,” he said. “We will defer to Pakistani authorities to determine their own deadlines and standards to which they want to hold themselves [responsible] with respect to this investigation.”

Kirby told the audience that after the Pathankot attack, the US has been in contact with Pakistani authorities every day “at all different levels”. The spokesman reiterated the US’s commitment to encouraging bilateral and multilateral efforts to battle the threat of terrorism in the region.

Referring briefly to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the spokesman said the United States wants to see all perpetrators brought to justice, adding that he recognised it could take a long time.

“It took an awful long time to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, but we did. So it can be hard,” he said.

As far as the attack on the airbase in Punjab was concerned, the spokesman said that Pakistani officials had informed him of an ongoing investigation. “We look forward to seeing the results of that investigation when it’s complete,” he added.

Responding to a question, the spokesman said he did not have knowledge or information specifically about what India might have provided to Pakistan, but added that if there was some information sharing, that would be helpful and productive. “But I can’t speak of the results just two days after,” he added.

Answering another question, spokesman Kirby said Pakistan had said they were not going to discriminate between terrorist groups when they conduct counter-terrorism operations. “They’ve been very open about that, and we look forward to seeing the results of their investigation,” he said.

He said the United States will continue to not only encourage an approach of aggression in counter-terrorism operations run by Pakistan and other regional powers, but will also “continue to express their willingness in supporting those operations as required, or as deemed fit by the nations”.


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