To no one’s surprise, all the blame was pinned on Pakistan for the recent terror attack on the air base in Pathankot. In due course of time, Indian security agencies had gathered enough evidence to point the finger at that direction. In response, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday constituted a high profile joint investigation team to probe the link between the Pathankot air base attack and terror groups, particularly the Jaish-e-Mohammed, operating out of Pakistan. According to a local Pakistani daily, Sharif has taken “active role” in getting to the bottom of the Pathankot incident. Moreover, Sharif has reportedly discussed the matter with Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and took him onboard about the decision to form a joint investigation team. This investigation will be a major test of Sharif’s decision to move India-Pakistan relations forward, especially after his Indian counterpart’s bold visit to Lahore on Christmas Day. The Pathankot incident presents Pakistan with the greatest opportunity to win India’s confidence provided it can take some concrete steps. Moreover, it could pave the way for an extensive dialogue on the Kashmir issue, which has been Pakistan’s biggest demand.
Most of the information gathered by the Indian intelligence suggests that the attack was not only planned but executed by Pakistani residents. The evidence presented includes voice recordings and cellular numbers of the attackers that were traced back to Pakistan. Both India and the US have been assured by Sharif that the Pakistan government will get to the bottom of the matter. Sharif also assured them that he will make the results of his investigation public for everyone’s knowledge. Amid uncertainty over the scheduled Foreign Secretary-level talks, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval responded in a recent interview that “there will be no peace talks with Pakistan until India is satisfied with its investigation of the Pathankot attacks”. However, subsequently, Doval was quick to deny having said that the talks were cancelled and that “we (India) will talk only if Pakistan takes action”. Whatever the clarification, one can safely presume that without prompt and decisive action by Pakistan, it seems unlikely that the crucial foreign secretary-level talks will go ahead. And Nawaz Sharif is well aware of this fact. If the dialogue process is indeed aborted, India will blame Pakistan for inaction and complicity, and both sides will back to square one. Under these circumstances, it is heartening to note that and an unspecified number of people were arrested after Pakistani authorities carried out raids in Gujranwala, Jhelum and Bahawalpur districts.