Pathankot attack: Was Pakistan involved?
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Era of terrorism, like state arrogance, is still thriving!
The Pathankot terror attack in Punjab may have been perpetrated by those who want Pakistan to give up its continuous claim for Sri Nagar inclusive Kashmir from Indian occupation. Although New Delhi has time and again made it clear to Pakistan (and USA) that Kashmir issue has already been decided in India’s favor and the “case” cannot be reopened even by chance, Islamabad wants debate as Kashmiris should be given a fair chance to decide their future. India imposes its military will on Kashmiris.
Indian position on Kashmir is very clear. It would never surrender Kashmir to Kashmiris and it can face and withstand boldly any number of terror attacks. India thinks since many world powers, including Israel, have no objections to Indian occupation and crimes against Kashmiris, it has no reason to revise its borders or amend constitution. Moreover, many Indian leaders feel elated looking at Indian map which is decorated at the top by Kashmir as India’s crown.
As soon as, if not before or on the eve of that, the Pathankot tragedy occurred, India approached USA to warn Pakistan about terror gimmicks and ask it to order investigation about the issue.
As speculated on similar occasions, India, as usual and as before, has quickly blamed its western neighbor and a fellow nuke rival power Pakistan for the Pathankot terror attack and asked it to do “more”. And Pakistan has obediently obliged the Indian regime.
Intelligence officials in Islamabad said on instruction from Pakistani Prime Minister, Pakistani authorities carried out raids at different places following attack on the Pathankot air base in India, leading to some arrests. They said that raids were carried out in Gujranwala, Jhelum and Bahawalpur districts and an unspecified number of people were arrested.
After the arrests, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, nudged by the USA to expeditiously act against the perpetrators of the Pathankot terror attack, the Express Tribune reported, Nawaz Sharif has ordered formation of a high-profile joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the links of the attackers with Pakistan.
Prime Minister Sharif “is taking an active role in getting to the bottom of the Pathankot incident,” a Prime Minister’s House source was quoted as saying by the paper. Sharif also discussed the issue with army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and took him on board about the decision to form a JIT, the source added. “This investigation will be a major test of the prime minister to move Pakistan-India relationship forward and to break the cycle of off-again on-again talks between the two neighbours,” the source added.
Media reports as supplied by the intelligence sources suggest that in a pre-dawn attack on January 2, a group of heavily- armed “Pakistani terrorists”, suspected to be belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit, struck at the Air Force base in Pathankot. Indian intelligence reports suggested that groups and people in Pakistan planned and executed the strike.
India has already delivered the judgment as to who has “done” the attacks. Of course choice of Pakistan is the safest bet for New Delhi’s strategists who can claim a “major” victory over Pakistan.
India has provided “specific and actionable information” in this regard to Pakistan. The evidence is said to include some voice recordings and the cellular phone numbers of the attackers’ handlers which were traced to Pakistan.
PM Sharif has assured leaders from India and the USA that Pakistan would investigate the matter and make the results public. He is on the job.
The News said that Pakistan has completed initial investigation on the terror attack and handed over its report to Indian authorities. There was, as expected, no official word on this from the Indian side. The paper, quoting Pakistani authorities, claimed that the telephone numbers provided by India were not registered in Pakistan. Adviser to the Pakistan PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said the FS-level talks are “intact” as “Pakistan is investigating the Pathankot incident”. The attack on the air force base came just a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore to meet and greet his “friend” counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
As a strategic partner of America, India has perfected the art of US type blackmailing. Sharif’s decision to form the JIT came after the leads provided by India which has linked the Foreign Secretary-level talks, scheduled for January 15, to Islamabad’s decisive action on the terror attack on its air base. The decision to form the JIT, comprising officials from Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Sharif recently
India identified a Pakistani Masood Azhar as mastermind of the attack. It also blamed his brother Rauf and five others for carrying out the attack that left all six “terrorists” and seven Indian soldiers dead on January 2. It has provided telephone number in Pakistan contacted by the airbase attackers and given other inputs. India has called on Islamabad to act on the information if the FS-level talks are to take place as scheduled on 15 January.
After the terror attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also promised his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that his government will act on information provided by New Delhi on the terrorists’ alleged Pakistani links. Pakistan has already submitted to India its initial findings on alleged Pakistani links to the Pathankot terror attack saying that the telephone numbers given by India were not registered in Pakistan. . A Joint Investigation Team, formed following a directive of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, submitted the initial findings on the alleged Pakistani links to the terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force station in Punjab’s Pathankot district earlier in January.
Pakistani news channel ARY News reported today that “some arrests” have been made in this regard but police did not confirm any arrest related to the Pathankot attack. The intelligence agencies have picked up some suspects from Bahawalpur on the leads provided by India in Pathankot airbase attack and shifted them to undisclosed location for interrogation.
The USA has said it is encouraged by the fact that the Pakistan government has condemned the Pathankot terror attack and promised investigation. “Our expectation is that investigation will be thorough and complete and as transparent as possible. But in terms of its progress and where they are, you’d have to talk to Pakistani authorities on it,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby said at his daily news conference.
Last week US Secretary of State John Kerry asked Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to find out the truth and stressed on the need to stay focused on the pressing challenge of terrorism in the region. The spokesperson said that the US would like the two countries to continue with their peace talks. Meanwhile, senior US officials believe that Pakistan is serious about investigation this time unlike in the past.
Pakistani officials have told their media that the information given by India was not enough and may not stand scrutiny in a court of law.
The foreign secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India could be deferred by New Delhi as there was no information so far about the visit of the Indian foreign secretary for the January 15 talks in Islamabad. In fact, no communication has taken place between Islamabad and New Delhi on the foreign secretary-level talks since the Pathankot attack.
The Indian government has expressed confidence that Pakistan will come through in the investigations in the Pathankot attack and Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that Islamabad should be given more time to take concrete action. However, the Congress has slammed the Centre for not bringing Pakistan’s role in the Pathankot attack onto the international arena strongly enough. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi lashed out at the Congress for critiquing the Centre over India’s current policy with Pakistan and said that the government was quite capable of handling national security matter and added that the grand old party should refrain from becoming ‘experts’ on the issue.
Pakistan does not want the foreign secretary-level talks to get derailed as they were expected to pave the way for a comprehensive composite dialogue covering all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir.
Meanwhile, India asks Pakistan to use Afghanistan for better ties with India and leave Kashmir centric approach which is not credible. .
But the way Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif agreed to conduct independent investigation to find out if Pakistan was also involved shows Pakistan believes it may have “performed” some role in the terror exercise at Pathankot.
Is Pakistan also involved in the attacks in Pathankot? If so, why?