Sartaj Aziz, the foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, indicated it was possible that a team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) could be allowed to visit Pakistan to probe into the Pathankot attack.
In an interview to CNN-News18, the rebranded version of CNN-IBN that was launched on Monday, Aziz said “all options were open” when it came to an NIA team visiting Pakistan to carry out investigations.
Earlier in the month Pakistan envoy to India, Abdul Basit, had hinted that Indian investigators might not be allowed to visit Pakistan and gather evidence. The remark had stirred diplomatic tussle between the two countries as India had allowed investigators from the neighbouring country to carry out probe inside the Pathankot airbase.
Aziz said that Basit’s statement about cooperation not meaning reciprocity was being “over-interpreted”.
The Pakistani official responded to a question on when Pakistan would reciprocate India’s move by stating “In case the evidence leads to some basis and identification of people (who) need to be investigated.”
Aziz said that Basit did not exclude the option of NIA’s visit to Pakistan.
“I don’t think he used that word. He said that right now cooperation is more important than that of reciprocity and does not exclude option and he said that let’s cooperate and then thing will work out. So, I don’t think one should over interpret statement, he (Basit) just said that cooperation is more important which is true,” Aziz said.
Earlier this month, Basit had indicated that an Indian probe team is unlikely to be allowed to visit Pakistan, which had sent its JIT to probe the terror attack at the air base, saying, “...the whole investigation is not about question of reciprocity in my view. It is more about extending cooperation or our two countries cooperating with each other to get to the bottom of the incident”.
The government continued to be hopeful that a team of Indian investigators would soon visit the neighbouring country to gather evidence in connection with the Pathankot terror attack. “We are hopeful that a team of NIA will visit Pakistan soon,” minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said.
Aziz also downplayed Basit’s remarks on “suspension” of Indo-Pak peace process, saying “... suspending doesn’t mean cancelled or given up”. For the time being you called it suspended as obviously after January, four months have passed, and to that “extent dialogue is suspended but I hope it will resume soon,” he added.
During the interview, Aziz also alleged that a network of Indian spies were operating in his country and claimed that the alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav , who was arrested in Pakistan, was part of a larger group.
“I don’t think there should be any surprise. Last year, my visit to India was cancelled when I had said that while India is blaming us for non-state actors acting on its soil , in case of India it is the state actors that are operating in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi.”
(With inputs from PTI)