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False dawn?

In a significant development on Friday, New Delhi issued visas to five members of a Pakistan Joint Investigation Team (JIT) who will travel to the country on Sunday to carry forward the probe into the Pathankot air base attack. The members of the JIT are scheduled to leave for India on March 27. The five-member team comprises senior officials from both the military intelligence as well as civil administration and is headed by the chief of Punjab counter-terrorism department (CTD) additional inspector-general of police Muhammad Tahir Rai, according to the Press Trust of India. To the uninitiated, the Pathankot attack had led to a postponement of the Foreign Secretary-level meet between the two countries. Talks between the respective Foreign Secretaries would have marked the first step of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue process between the two nations. India has blamed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack and sought action against its perpetrators. It had said Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar masterminded the attack. But the formation of the JIT follows yet another high-level group set up by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which had found no substantial evidence to prove Maulana Masood Azhar’s role in the Pathankot attack. There are many questions that remain unanswered. Will India either call off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan if the JIT does not indict Masood Azhar and the JeM? Any attempt to call these talks off could invite serious questions of the NDA government, considering how far it stuck its neck out to maintain engagement levels with Pakistan. Under all these circumstances, it is fair to presume that the initial excitement that had accompanied Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Lahore on Christmas Day to kick-start Indo-Pak ties has faded. However, this newspaper hopes that an investigation by the JIT on Indian soil brings positive results and kick-start talks between the two neighbours.
MPost

MPost

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