Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday reviewed Pakistan’s progress in acting on information provided by India on the Pathankot attack, a move aimed at ensuring that a crucial meeting of the foreign secretaries next week is not derailed by the terrorist assault.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been assessing the situation and stressed on the need for urgent action when he spoke to Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, is likely to visit the air force station on Saturday, government sources said.
However, Punjab DGP Suresh Arora told HT there was no official communication on the visit.
Even as Islamabad pushed for a sustained dialogue in the wake of the terrorist attack that has cast a shadow on bilateral ties, authorities in New Delhi said they were awaiting a formal response from Pakistan regarding the demand for “prompt and decisive action” against the perpetrators of the incident.
An official said India had shared actionable intelligence with Islamabad and said, “There is no deadline. But we hope Pakistan takes action in time so that the scheduled talks (between the foreign secretaries) are not hampered.”
The foreign secretaries are expected to meet in Islamabad on January 15 and India had on Thursday linked the talks to its demand for action on the Pathankot attack, blamed on the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Sleuths of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are probing whether the attackers in Pathankot had help from inside to enter the airbase and remain hidden for more than 12 hours, sources said.
“The possibility of inside help cannot be ruled out. The NIA is probing this aspect. Let the probe get completed and we will be in a better position to say something,” a senior home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
A meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sharif in Islamabad, also attended by army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to cooperate with India to “completely eradicate” terrorism.
A statement issued by Sharif’s office after the meeting contained several assurances that appeared to be aimed at assuaging India.
“In line with Pakistan’s commitment to effectively counter and eradicate terrorism, the meeting reviewed the progress made on the information provided by the government of India,” the statement said, without giving details of the progress that had been made.
“The meeting expressed the confidence that building on the goodwill generated by the recent high level contacts, the two countries would remain committed to a sustained, meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process,” it said.
The statement reiterated Pakistan’s 2004 commitment about not allowing its soil to be used for terrorism directed at India. “The people of Pakistan have evolved a political consensus for action against all terrorists and terrorist organisations without any distinction, and have resolved that no terrorist would be allowed to use Pakistan’s soil for committing terrorism anywhere in the world,” it said.
Pakistan repeated its condemnation of the Pathankot attack and the statement said the country’s “entire leadership and institutions were working in complete harmony to counter terrorism and extremism” – an indication that the powerful army was on board.
Besides the army and ISI chiefs, the meeting was also attended by interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, national security adviser Nasser Janjua, foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and the director general of military operations.
The Pathankot attack had figured in another meeting between Prime Minister Sharif and his top aides on Thursday. Pakistani media reports said Sharif had directed authorities to launch a probe on the basis of the information provided by India.
India’s demand for action against the JeM had also figured at a meeting of corps commanders chaired by army chief Gen Sharif on Wednesday, sources said.