Pakistan said it remained committed to partner with India “to eradicate the menace of terrorism”, condemning a pre-dawn attack on the Pathankot Indian Air Force base on Saturday.
Militants entered the IAF base near the Pakistan border in northern Punjab and engaged security forces in a fierce gunfight. Five terrorists were killed by commandos, the police said. Three men of the security forces also died in the gun battle.
“Building on the goodwill created during the recent high level contacts between the two countries, Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region,” a statement released by the Pakistan foreign affairs ministry said.
Security sources said, based on their initial analysis, the attack may have been carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a militant group based in Pakistan.
“We extend heartfelt condolences to the government and people of India and the bereaved families and wish the wounded speedy and full recovery,” the statement said.
An expert said the attack was a move on “predictable lines” to strike a blow to the neighbours’ fragile peace process.
“The challenge is to ensure that the bilateral relationship is insulated from such threats,” C Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies, told Hindustan Times.
The attack came a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an impromptu visit to Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, in a bid to revive bilateral talks that had previously been derailed by militant attacks.
Home minister Rajnath Singh told ANI: “Pakistan is our neighbour and we want peace, but any terrorist attack on India will get a befitting response.”
Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said: “We have credible information about this attack being sponsored by some elements across the border.”