India counters Pak assertion that Pathankot probe not a 'question of reciprocity'
New Delhi: India has issued a sharp counter to the comment by Pakistan saying that the probe into the Pathankot probe was not a question of reciprocity, saying that it had informed Pakistan on march 26 that its gesture of allowing Pakistan's Joint Investigation Team access to the Pathankot air base for probe into the January 2 attack was on the basis of the reciprocity.
"We have seen comments by the Pakistani High Commission on the visit of JIT to investigate the Pathankot Attack. The comment has a reference to reciprocity, we would like to clarify that on March 26, before the visit of JIT, Indian High Commission formally conveyed to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry that Terms of Reference are broadly agreed to with proviso that these would be on the basis of reciprocity and followed in accordance with extant legal provisions," spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said in a statement today.
India's observations came in response to comments in this regard by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit earlier today evening.
"It is very difficult for me to say. But at this stage... the whole investigation is not about question of reciprocity in my view. It is more about extending cooperation or our two countries cooperating with each other to get to the bottom of the incident," Basit said in response to a question on India's formal request to Pakistan to allow access to a team from the National Investigation Agency into Pakistan to take forward the probe into the Pathankot attack.
Basit further said that there is no dialogue process scheduled between the two countries and that the peace talks have been suspended for now.
Asked at the Foreign Correspondents Club about a meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two countries, Basit said, "There is no meeting scheduled for now. I think at present the peace process is suspended. India is not ready as yet," Basit said, adding that "we can only resolve issues through dialogue".
This is the first official word from Pakistan about the latest breakdown in the now-on-now-off peace process with India.
There were unconfirmed reports in the Pakistani media yesterday citing a report by Pakistan's JIT that visited India saying that the Pathankot attack was stage-managed by India and that it was nothing but a "vicious propaganda against Pakistan". There were also reports that the Pakistan JIT was given limited access during their visit to the Pathankot air base.
Spokesperson for India's Ministry for External Affairs Vikas Swarup said earlier today that the visit by Pakistan's JIT was in accordance with law. "The work of JIT in India was as per the terms of reference which were agreed between the two governments through their respective foreign offices. They (visit) are on reciprocal basis and in accordance with the existing legal provisions,"
Swarup further said that both sides had agreed on March 26 that the NIA would be visiting Pakistan in connection with the probe. When Basit was quizzed if the NIA would be allowed access to Pakistan for the probe as per its request, Basit said, "I leave it to your imagination."
After a team of Pakistani officials visited Pathankot to probe Indian charges that Pakistani terrorists were to blame for the January 2 attack, New Delhi had expected Islamabad to allow an NIA team to visit that country to take the investigation forward.
He also spoke on Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was "the root cause of mutual distrust and other bilateral issues".
"And attempts to put it on backburner will be counter-productive," he added. "The resolution of (the) Jammu and Kashmir (dispute) should be fair and just."
India has repeatedly held Pakistan-based militant Jaish-e-Mohammad and its chief Masood Azhar responsible for the attacks on Pathankot and Mumbai. India has maintained its stand even on several international forums, including the UN.
Pakistan has been harbouring terrorists who plan and execute militant activities against India, something that Pakistan has repeatedly denied. Cooperation on the Pathankot attack probe in the form of a formation of a JIT by Pakistan appeared to have put things on a forward track in terms of fighting terror.
However, the latest statements reaffirm Pakistan's double standards and its perpetual denial mode once again.