Little faith in Pakistan
The Government of India on Thursday said that Pakistan must fulfill its repeated assurances of not allowing its soil for “aiding and abetting” terrorism directed against India. Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said it was conveyed to Pakistan at the highest level after the Pathankot attack that it must take firm and immediate action against organisations and individuals responsible for and linked to the strike. “The government is committed to working towards a normal relationship with Pakistan by addressing all outstanding issues through bilateral peaceful dialogue,” he said. At the same time, he said it has been reiterated to Pakistan that “it needs to fulfill its repeated assurances including at the highest level to not allow its territory or areas under its control for aiding and abetting terrorism directed against India.” To the uninitiated, the Pathankot attack had led to 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. These comments came as a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan is likely to visit India this month to probe the Pathankot terror assault. 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. An honest investigation into the attack seems unlikely. 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 is beginning to dissipate.