New Delhi has conveyed the need to allow an Indian probe team to visit Islamabad in connection with the Pathankot attack on the principle of reciprocity, minister of state for external affairs VK Singh told Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
He said this was relayed to Pakistani officials at the foreign secretaries’ talk on Tuesday, though it was not “an official dialogue”. Singh was responding to a question by Congress’ Anand Sharma on whether India will be allowed to interrogate Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in connection with the terror attack.
“…so far as we are concerned, our high commissioner conveyed formally to Pakistan foreign ministry that the terms of reference for the visit are broadly agreed to with the proviso that they would be on the basis of reciprocity and agreed and followed in accordance with the extant legal provisions. This has been very clearly conveyed to the ministry of foreign affairs of Pakistan that, subsequently, what has come in newspapers, we are not concerned with,” Singh said. He added, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, has been “clearly told” that they have to look into NIA visiting Pakistan.
“Now, he has to go back and take a formal view and convey it to us,” the minister said.
Foreign secretaries of the two countries S Jaishankar and Chaudhry met on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference in New Delhi.
The minister of state said when Pakistan sent its Joint Investigation Team, which included an ISI official, it was a sign of a “positive attitude”.
The issue of an ISI member being present in the JIT was raised by Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Lok Sabha. Scindia asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to negotiate with the neighbour from a “position of strength”, instead of having an “emotional” response.
Raising the issue before the start of the Question Hour, the Congress chief said the Pakistan media had insinuated that the India government had “staged a drama” to malign Pakistan and that the Indian side had not cooperated with the team.
Responding to NCP member Majid Memon’s apprehension that Pakistan “may change” the evidence gathered here, and asked if India has a record of the information provided, Singh said: “Their JIT and our NIA had a dialogue at the professional level. Our method of enquiry and theirs is almost the same. They were given only the records we have.”