Decision On Foreign Secretary-Level Talks With Pakistan Today

14/01/2016 8:13 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Maulana Masood Azhar, Muslim cleric and leader of the militant group fighting in Indian-held Kashmir against Indian forces arrives at Karachi airport Saturday, Jan. 22, 2000. Azhar and two other persons were realeased by Indian authorities on Dec. 31, 1999 in exchange of 155 passengers and crew members from the hijacked aircraft at Kandahar airport in Afghanistan. The purpose of his visit is not given.(AP Photo/Athar Hussain)

India will wait until the return of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval from Paris this afternoon to take a call on the the Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan on Friday. A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the talks even as Pakistan allegedly arrested Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and other individuals from the terror outfit that is suspected to have engineered the Pathankot terror attack, and sealed its offices after India demanded action, linking it to the fate of the talks.

Ministry of External Affairs Ministry officials said the decision to await Doval's arrival was taken after a two-hour meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Late in the night External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India has received no confirmation of the detention of Azhar. Mohammad Zubair, a minister in the Nawaz Sharif government in Pakistan, told an Indian TV channel that he cannot confirm the arrest of Azhar while Lt Gen (Retired) Abdul Qadir Baloch, minister for frontier regions, said that "Azhar was arrested".

Azhar's brother Abdul Rehman Rauf has also been detained, Geo TV said. A PMO statement issued in Islamabad after the meeting said it noted with satisfaction that as part of Pakistan's commitment to eliminate terrorism from its soil and the expressed national resolve not to allow the territory to be used for acts of terrorism anywhere.

It said "considerable progress has been made in the investigations being carried out against terrorist elements reportedly linked to the Pathankot incident. Based on initial investigations in Pakistan, and the information provided, several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad have been apprehended. The offices of the organisation are also being traced and sealed. Further investigations are underway," the statement said.

In the night, the Pakistani government followed up with another announcement of setting up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising security and military officials to probe whether any Pakistani individual or organisation was involved in the Pathankot attack on January 2. The JIT was set up following an order of Sharif to ensure a thorough and fair probe by Pakistan.

According to an official of the Prime Minister's Office, the JIT would be led by Additional IG Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Punjab, Rai Tahir.

Other members of the team are Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB) Lahore Azeem Arshad, Additional Inspector General, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Salahuddin Khan, Director, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore, Usman Anwar, Brigadier Noman Saeed, ISI, and Lt Col Irfan Mirza, Military Intelligence (MI).

The team will investigate the involvement of any individual or organisation from Pakistan in the Pathankot airbase attack on January 2 in which seven Indian security personnel were killed.

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