India seeks 'visible' progress in Pathankot probe

Jaishankar-Aizaz Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry | PTI

India on Tuesday sought “early and visible progress” in Pakistan's investigation into the January 2 cross-border terror attack on the Pathankot airbase in which seven Indian security men were killed.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, during talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, emphasised the need for "early and visible progress" in the Pathankot terrorist attack investigation as well as the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks trial in Pakistan, the external affairs ministry said in a statement, adding that the “discussions were frank and constructive”.

Jaishankar also brought up the inclusion of Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar in the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee listing and his labelling as a terrorist.

The JeM was behind the Pathankot terror attack.

“Foreign Secretary Jaishankar clearly conveyed that Pakistan cannot be in denial on the impact of terrorism on the bilateral relationship,” the ministry statement said.

“Terrorist groups based in Pakistan targeting India must not be allowed to operate with impunity.”

India also pressed for immediate consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former naval officer who was abducted and taken to Pakistan.

“The discussions also covered humanitarian issues including those pertaining to fishermen and prisoners, and people to people contacts including religious tourism,” the statement said.

“The two foreign secretaries exchanged ideas on taking the relationship forward and agreed to remain in touch.”

According to Pakistan foreign office spokesman Mohammed Nafees Zakaria, the Pakistani foreign secretary “expressed serious concern over RAW's involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi”.

However, sources within the Indian establishment said Jaishankar firmly rebutted the allegations of India's involvement in Balochistan or other areas of Pakistan.

“In this context, he asked which spy agency would put their agent in the field with their own passport, and without a visa,” the sources said.

According to Zakaria, during Tuesday's talks, Islamabad sought early resumption of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue between the two south Asian neighbours.

Chaudhry expressed the confidence that building on the goodwill generated by the recent high-level contacts, the two countries should remain committed to a sustained, meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process.

“He underscored the need for early commencement of comprehensive dialogue for which the Indian foreign secretary's visit to Pakistan is due,” Zakaria tweeted after the meeting ahead of the Heart of Asia Conference here on Tuesday.

During External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Islamabad in December last year for the Heart of Asia Conference, India and Pakistan agreed to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's December 25 stopover at Lahore to greet and meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday also gave a fillip to the dialogue process.

However, the foreign secretary-level talks as part of this dialogue, scheduled earlier for the middle of January this year, got stalled following the attack on the Pathankot Indian Air Force airbase.

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