Pakistan forms new team to probe Pathankot attack

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, Hindustan Times, Islamabad/New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 26, 2016 13:58 IST
Soldiers stand guard inside an airbase in Pathankot. (HT Photo/Sameer Sehgal)

Pakistan has formed a new joint investigation team (JIT) that is expected to visit India next month to take forward the probe into the terror attack on Pathankot airbase.

The five-member team, which includes representatives from the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and police, will replace a special investigation team (SIT) that conducted the initial probe into the assault.

The formal notification regarding the setting up of the team was issued on Thursday, a week after Pakistani authorities filed a First Information Report regarding the attack. The FIR is essential for investigators to travel to India to record evidence and interview witnesses.

Though the FIR was filed against unidentified attackers and abettors, India has blamed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack that killed seven people. The JIT will probe the “alleged involvement of (a) Pakistani terrorist group”, The News daily quoted its sources as saying.

The JIT “is likely to visit India shortly”, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman told a weekly news briefing on Thursday. The Indian government has agreed in principle to the visit and both sides are in touch regarding this matter, he said.

The JIT is headed by Rai Tahir, the chief of Punjab province’s Counter-Terrorism Department, who also headed the SIT. After the initial probe supervised by Tahir, the SIT had recommended the filing of an FIR.

Tahir had a “good reputation” in investigating complex terrorism cases and his team recently arrested a number of Islamic State operatives in Punjab province, The News reported. The report said the JIT will now focus on the telephone numbers that were called by the attackers from India.

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