An investigation team from Pakistan will visit India to carry out enquiries over the Pathankot attack on March 27, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced after a meeting with her counterpart Sartaj Aziz in Nepal on Thursday.
“Obviously if we have met, the Pathankot attack was discussed, and I am happy to announce that the Joint investigation team would arrive in India on March 27, and will begin their work on March 28,” Ms. Swaraj told reporters.
Officials said the two leaders had also discussed arrests made by Pakistan in the attack where 7 Indian security force personnel were killed, including a discussion on JeM chief Masood Azhar, who has been in detention since January 14th, according to Pakistani officials.
In Delhi, Minister of State Kiren Rijiju also said the team from Pakistan would be allowed to visit all “necessary” locations for their investigation, but wouldn’t comment on whether that would include access to the Pathankot air force base where the attack took place. “We have taken an in-principle decision to facilitate the visit of a Pakistani team to India for furtherance of our case. We will allow them to visit wherever necessary for the investigation,” Mr. Rijiju said.
Although Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said in January that Pakistani nationals would not be given to access to the high-security installation, several officials including the Air Force Chief Arup Raha have said since then that they would have no objection if the government cleared the visit. Sources toldThe Hindu a final call would be taken by the Prime Minister’s Office, as the Pakistani team is likely to comprise officials from the ISI and Military intelligence.
Officials at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad also confirmed that while the decision to facilitate visas for the Pakistani team has been taken, the Pakistan government is yet to inform them of the list of team-members for clearances. “As we said last month, it will take at least 5-6 days to clear the names of the JIT. Now that a date for their visit has been decided, we hope they will forward the names at the earliest,” an official said.
The Joint investigation team constituted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on January 13 included officials from Police from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Intelligence bureau, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Military intelligence (MI) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the team to visit India is likely to have the same composition.
The meeting between Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Sharif’s Foreign Affairs Advisor, was held on the sidelines of the SAARC ministerial meeting in the resort town of Pokhara, and marked the first face to face meeting between the Indian and Pakistan government ever since the January 2 terror strike by suspected JeM militants on the air force base in Pathankot. It also comes two weeks before a possible meeting between Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif in Washington, where they will both attend the Nuclear Security Summit. While not confirming a “structured meeting” Mr. Aziz told reporters that he was “hopeful” of a bilateral meeting between the two Prime Ministers.
Ms. Swaraj also accepted an invitation for Prime Minister Modi to attend the SAARC Summit to be held in Pakistan on November 9-10 this year. Foreign Secretaries of both countries, whose meeting to restart comprehensive bilateral dialogue in January was derailed by the Pathankot attack, are also due to meet in Washington, sources said.
[Source:- The Hindu]