Hours after Pakistan pledged action against the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates, New Delhi made it clear on Wednesday that the resumption of bilateral talks would hinge on Islamabad cracking down on the perpetrators of the Pathankot attack.
“In the aftermath of a terror attack, if you ask me what do you give priority to – a terrorist attack or a diplomatic dialogue, I think the answer should be obvious,” foreign secretary S Jaishankar said during an interactive session at the Raisina Dialogue, a conclave on geo-economics and geo-politics.
Jaishankar was responding to a question on whether talks between the foreign secretaries were linked to action by Pakistan against perpetrators of the January 2 attack on Pathankot airbase that killed seven people. India has blamed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack.
Both countries were in touch following the Pathankot attack, primarily at the level of the national security advisers, Jaishankar said. India wants a “much more modern relationship” with Pakistan but this can happen only if Islamabad has a change in attitude on several issues, of which terrorism is a “central” one, he added.
A joint statement issued on Tuesday at the conclusion of the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue in Washington said foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz had “affirmed the government of Pakistan’s resolve to take effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates”.
“Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to countering terrorism including by targeting all terrorists without discrimination,” the statement said.
The UN Security Council designated the Jamaat-ud-Dawah a front for the LeT after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people. Pakistan has not yet banned the JuD, which has only been placed on the interior ministry’s “watch list”.
Though Pakistan has filed a First Information Report on the Pathankot attack, the document does not name the JeM or its chief Masood Azhar, accused by India of masterminding the attack on the airbase.
Talks between the foreign secretaries were cancelled in the wake of the Pathankot attack and India has been non-committal about rescheduling the parleys. Indian officials have indicated that much will depend on the Pakistani investigation into the attack and steps to prosecute Masood Azhar and other JeM operatives.
Azhar was placed under “protective custody” and several JeM operatives were detained or arrested. A Pakistani joint investigation team is expected to visit India this month to take forward the probe.