Getting serious about the Pathankot probe


WEB DESK: The Modi government seems to have decided to use the Pathankot airbase terrorist attack as an excuse to put the peace process on hold. While foreign secretaries talks, scheduled for January 15, remain postponed indefinitely, Indian ministers have been laying the blame at Pakistan’s door for their problems whether related or unrelated to the Pathankot incident.

It may be recalled, that a few days ago, student protests erupted in Delhi’s liberal Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), when the police resorted to violence against students observing the death anniversary of a Kashmiri leader, Afzal Guru, who was hanged on questionable charges. No less a person than Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, Hafiz Saeed, the emir of Jamaat-ud-Da’wa (accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks), was behind the demonstrations. As ridiculous as the claim was, it invited derision from various political leaders within India.

Talking to a TV channel on Thursday, Indian defence Minister Manohar Parrikar accused Pakistan of being non-serious about carrying out necessary investigations, saying “if somebody pretends to fall asleep, it’s difficult to find out [the facts].” Far from being asleep Islamabad had acted quickly on its own to start investigations; and based on information provided by India, several individuals belonging to the proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammad were arrested, including its chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother-both named by India for their alleged involvement in the Pathankot terror attack. Islamabad also formed a joint investigation team comprising senior officials from the Counter Terrorism Department, investigation and intelligence agencies to examine the case. After weeks of investigations, the Punjab Police’s Counter Terrorism Department has now registered a First Information Report (FIR) against alleged attackers and their abettors.

Further investigations and judicial proceedings are to follow in the light of Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s statement that four attackers had come from Pakistan, and that they “probably crossed the border adjacent to the Pathankot general area.” As the statement indicates the involvement of any Pakistani is a ‘probability’ rather than a certainty. In fact, some reports in India itself have suggested people from Indian-held Kashmir could be involved. The information supplied by other side so far does not seem to be very helpful. According to Islamabad, for instance, the cell phone numbers provided by India linking the terrorists to this country are unregistered and have fake identities. Minister Manohar, of course, has his own counter explanation.

Given the past history, Indian concerns are understandable. But such a serious and sensitive case as the present one cannot be resolved through distant communication amidst public recriminations. In order to hold the perpetrators to account, the two sides need to work in cooperation. It is in the fitness of things therefore that the national security advisers of the two countries meet to separate facts from suspicions and take the case to its logical conclusion. The stalled foreign secretaries’ talks need to be held as soon as possible so that the peace process does not become hostage to the wishes of extremist elements that exist on both sides.

Source: Business Recorder