Peace talks with Pakistan will go ahead only if Islamabad acts against those behind the attack on the Indian air base in Pathankot earlier this month, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval said on Monday.
The foreign secretaries of the two countries are scheduled to meet on January 15, but the deadly strike on the airbase by suspected Pakistan-based militants has cast a cloud on the dialogue.
India says it expects Pakistan to act on “leads” it shared on the Pathankot attack. In turn, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed action against those who planned the daring raid which killed seven Indian security men.
“Talks would take place only if Pakistan takes action against those behind the Pathankot terror attack,” Doval told NDTV, refuting comments attributed to him by a Hindi daily on Monday that the secretary-level talks had been called off.
“I speak to journalists every day. But I do not remember giving any such interview. I strongly deny that I made such a statement,” he said in a telephonic conversation with ANI.
Doval’s comments linking the fate of the January 15 talks to the action Pakistan takes against the Pathankot attackers are a reiteration of what New Delhi has already said.
On Saturday, Pakistan had said the foreign secretary-level talks with India are “intact” and it was following the leads provided by India.
“Let me tell you the talks are intact and will take place as per schedule,” Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on foreign affairs, told reporters in Lahore.
The attack came within about a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise stopover in Lahore on Christmas day to meet his Pakistani counterpart Sharif.
Following the attack, Sharif called up Modi who told his Pakistani counterpart that India wanted to see urgent action against those who conceived and executed the attack. Sharif had assured him of his support in the investigation to uncover how the lethal assault was conceived and executed.
Indian security agencies have identified five key figures from JeM who were involved in the conspiracy and New Delhi wants Islamabad to act against them. The terrorists under the scanner are the group’s chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Rauf Asghar, Maulana Ashfaq Ahmad, Hafiz Abdul Shakur and Kasim Jan.