The shadow of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks fell on the India-Pakistan peace process on Thursday even as the neighbours are yet to find a mutually convenient date to hold foreign secretary-level talks postponed after the Pathankot airbase attack this month.
“We see the Mumbai terror attack trial in Islamabad as a test of Pakistan’s sincerity in combating terrorism directed against India. The planning, training and financing of the Mumbai terrorist attack was done in Pakistan where 99% of the evidence is,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Swarup was reacting to reports about the Islamabad high court turning down a request for getting voice samples of seven suspects charged with the 26/11 attacks on account of the prosecutors not pursuing the matter. Though the spokesperson qualified his statement by saying the government did not receive “any word on this through the official channel”, the court order is seen as a setback.
The Mumbai terror attacks launched by Pakistan-based terrorists that killed 166 people had brought ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours to a new low in 2008.
The Pathankot attack has been blamed on the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed and India welcomed the “initial first steps” the neighbour took on its leads in hunting down the attackers.
“It is Pakistan’s responsibility to unearth and present the requisite evidence in the ongoing trial so that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” the spokesperson said about the Mumbai attacks case.
The Pakistani government had filed an application in the Islamabad high court seeking voice samples of the suspects to compare with the communications intercepted by Indian intelligence agencies and present those before the anti-terrorism court as evidence. But the court dismissed the petition.
“As of now, we don’t have a mutually convenient date,” Swarup said when asked about the status of the foreign secretary-level talks.
“It is not incorrect to say that foreign secretary-level talks will happen in the first fortnight of February. I see no reason why talks should be discontinued despite the Pathankot attack,” Pakistan’s high commissioner to India Abdul Basit told a television channel.
On the progress of the probe by Pakistan in the Pathankot terror strike, Swarup spokesperson said the two governments were in “continuous communication” regarding the matter but refused to give any further details.
India will also raise with Pakistan the issue of a balloon coming from there that was shot down by an Indian Air Force fighter over Rajasthan. “The defence ministry has written to the MEA and we will raise it (the issue) with Pakistan,” Swarup said.
A US-made helium-filled balloon was shot down by a Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft over Rajasthan on January 26 with top government sources maintaining that it had come from Pakistan and could have been an attempt to gauge India’s response time.