‘Talks with Pakistan not conditional on Pathankot probe’

Foreign secretary level talks between Pakistan and India are not conditional to Punjab’s Pathankot airbase attack probe, Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawaly said on Monday.

The Indian envoy said India and Pakistan are in contact to hold foreign secretary level talks in the near future, Dawn online reported.

“I can not give any particular date for the secretary level talks but foreign secretaries from both countries are in constant contact,” said Bambawaly.

After a series of high-level contacts starting with an ice-breaking meeting in Paris between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his counterpart Narendra Modi and climaxing with the latter’s surprise trip to Lahore, Pakistan and India had agreed in December to resume the bilateral dialogue after a hiatus of two years.

The resumed dialogue was named Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and it was agreed that the foreign secretaries of the two countries would meet on January 15 to decide about the timetable and modalities of the process.

In the attack on the airbase on January 2, India lost seven security personnel and blamed the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) for it.

It linked the resumption of the foreign secretaries’ meeting to action by Pakistan against JeM.

Later, in a high-level meeting presided over by Sharif and attended by army chief General Raheel Sharif, the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to cooperate with India on the Pathankot incident.

Sharif had said the government wants to send a team of special investigators to the airbase for further investigation, and to probe any possible involvement of Pakistan based individuals.

A special investigation team set up by Pakistan to probe the assault found no evidence implicating the JeM leader, Pakistani security officials said last week.

The attack was claimed by separatist group United Jihad Council, an alliance of Kashmiri militants.

The airbase is a mere 50 km from the Pakistani border, and is a major forward operational airbase of the Indian Air Force.