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Pakistan team’s visit: India did not demand reciprocal access

In a March 3 letter, the Ministry of External Affairs said their Pakistani counterparts were pressing for the investigators’ visit to enable “the building of a strong prosecution case”.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi |
May 18, 2016 3:20:14 am
Pathankot probe, NIA pathankot probe, pakistan pathankot probe, Pakistani JIT, Pakistan JIT, JIT, Joint Investigating Team, pakistan Joint Investigating Team, Pathankot terror attack, Pathankot, terror attack, Pathankot probe, india news The Pakistani joint investigation team at Pathankot. (File Photo)

Indian authorities did not make the Pakistani team’s visit — to gather evidence on the Pathankot terror attack — conditional on reciprocal access for the NIA, according to documents examined by The Indian Express. The decision to give unconditional access was deliberate, with New Delhi seeking to deny Islamabad any pretext to go slow on the case, said a senior government official familiar with the decision-making process.

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In a March 3 letter, the Ministry of External Affairs said their Pakistani counterparts were pressing for the investigators’ visit to enable “the building of a strong prosecution case”. The letter was routed to intelligence and police services linked to the case, seeking opinions on whether the visit would have any security implications.

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The letter said Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry promised that the team would process the material it obtained to “ensure admissibility of the evidence in a relevant court of law”.

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Pakistani investigators, the letter said, had identified families of the four perpetrators who the NIA believes were Jaish-e-Muhammad operatives. Forensic samples should be given to the JIT “for their possible match with specimens of relevant individuals in Pakistan”, it said.

Following consultations, the official said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision to allow the visit of the team, which included three serving intelligence officers, overruling resistance from Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar.

The Prime Minister, the official added, was key to allowing the visit to proceed without insisting on an agreed legal framework or a document binding Pakistan to its commitments.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval received assurances from his Pakistani counterpart, Lieutenant-General Nasir Janjua, and Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi, Abdul Basit, that the investigation would be pursued seriously, officials said.

India, though, has since received no information on what Pakistan has done with the evidence it gathered, notably tissue samples of the four perpetrators who were killed, which were to be matched with their families.

The NIA has identified the perpetrators as Nasir Hussain of Vehari — who made several calls home as the attack was underway — Hafiz Abu Bakar of Gujaranwala, Umar Farooq of Sanghar and Abdul Qayum of Sukkur. Islamabad, though, is yet to even acknowledge that the four men were Pakistani citizens.

The NIA has also not been told if Pakistani investigators have succeeded in locating Kashif Jan, a resident of Charsadda in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa who was first revealed by The Indian Express to have been among the men the attackers maintained telephone contact with.

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