Pathankot: ministries spar over giving access to Pak team

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 25, 2016

Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs

Team from Pakistan begins its week-long visit on Sunday

The government still seems to be uncertain about granting access to Pathankot’s technical area to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan arriving here on Sunday.

Apparently, the Ministry of Defence has locked horns with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Home Affairs over not allowing the JIT to enter the technical or core area in Pathankot Air Force Base, sources told BusinessLine.

This is because the Defence Ministry believes that while the JIT can interrogate all witnesses, gather evidence and record statements, it cannot be allowed to examine the access routes and the attack location, sources said.

The Defence Ministry is also concerned about the fact that the five-member JIT will consist of representatives from the Pakistan Army. Hence, it will be “extremely difficult” for it to let them identify the access areas and the technical base, where all aircraft are stationed, an official said.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Indian mission in Islamabad has granted visa to the team. Sources said the team is expected to arrive here on Sunday and plans to leave for Pathankot on Tuesday.

On Monday, the JIT is likely to meet officials from all the three Ministries as well as the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The Pakistan team plans to stay here for a week and meet eye-witnesses, gather evidence, meet the local staff there and examine the routes that the terrorists took to enter the Pathankot Air Force base.

“This kind of intelligence cooperation is the first of its kind between both the countries. This is also an indication that Pakistan is willing to take steps to tackle terror. Such a move has the potential to take the process of intelligence sharing between both the countries to the next level. I think we should give them full access and let them carry out the investigation without any hindrance,” said Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor, Centre for International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament, Jawaharlal Nehru University and member of India-Pakistan Track-II dialogue.

On March 23, the MEA held a high-level meeting with the Home and Defence Ministries and NIA.

The latter has also released photos of the four terrorists who were allegedly involved in the Pathankot attacks on January 2, who reportedly belonged to the Pakistan-based outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad that had claimed responsibility for the act.

Ever since the attacks, the two National Security Advisors – Ajit Doval (India) and Nasser Khan Janjua (Pakistan) – have been in “regular” touch to exchange “actionable intelligence”, said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

However, the attack upset the foreign secretary-level talks that were scheduled to take place on January 15-16.

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Published on March 25, 2016
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