India to take up balloon incident with Pak, no dates for FS-level talks yet: MEA
New Delhi: The Indian government today said that it will raise the issue of a suspicious balloon seen over Rajasthan on January 26, which it believes flew in from across the border in Pakistan.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup today said that the issue would be taken up with Pakistan officially. “We will take up this matter with Pakistan,” he said.
The balloon was picked up by the Indian Air Force radar on Tuesday and shot down by a Sukhoi-30 warplane. A top government source said it had come from Pakistan and may have been an attempt to test India's defences and response time. According to the IAF, no dangerous payload was found from the debris of the balloon.
The MEA also informed that no “mutually convenient date” had been determined so far for Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan. “We do not have a mutually convenient date as of now. Will inform as soon as both foreign secretaries decide on it,” Vikas Swarup said.
The meeting was earlier scheduled for January 15 but was called off in wake of the Pathankot terror attack on January2. The timetable and modalities of the resumed peace dialogue were slated to be discussed during the meeting.
India has said that Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad carried out the attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot and has put the onus of the continuation of the peace process, including Foreign Secretary-level talks, on action by Pakistan against the group.
Discussing the progress achieved so far in the probe, Swarup said that the governments of India and Pakistan were in “continuous communication” with each other. He refused to provide further details.
New Delhi also asserted that the trail of the 2008 Mumbai attack case was a “test” of Pakistan's sincerity in combating terrorism directed against the country. “We see 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.
“It is Pakistan's responsibility to unearth and present the requisite evidences in the ongoing trial so that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” Swarup said.
Noting that the government had seen media reports about the Pakistan high court dismissing government's petition seeking voice samples of 26/11 mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Swarup said India has not received any word on this through official channels.
(With PTI inputs)