Pakistan PM, military, ISI promises Pathankot probe to salvage dialogue with India

In an unprecedented response to a terror strike in India, Pakistan’s civilian leadership and the military-ISI complex, often called the “deep state,” have come out with a joint statement promising full cooperation in probing the Pathankot attack, which India blames on militants and handlers based in the neighbouring country.

The joint position was formulated at a meeting on January 8, chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attended by Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, DG Military Operations, National Security Advisor, Minister for Interior and Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs.

The statement came a day after India put the onus on Pakistan to take concrete action on the leads provided in the Pathankot terror attacks and indicated that the foreign secretary-level talks scheduled in Islamabad for January 14-15 could be postponed if Islamabad failed to take prompt action.

The meeting underlined Pakistan’s commitment to cooperate with India to “completely eradicate” terrorism. The Pathankot attack had figured in another meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his top aides on January 7. However,  the issue was overshadowed by the Saudi Arabian foreign minister’s visit who sought Pakistan’s support in the ongoing diplomatic row with Iran.

“In line with Pakistan’s commitment to effectively counter and eradicate terrorism, the meeting reviewed the progress made on the information provided by the government of India,” the joint statement said. “The meeting expressed the confidence that building on the goodwill generated by the recent high level contacts, the two countries would remain committed to a sustained, meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process,” it added.

The apparent coming together of Pakistan’s civilian leadership and the military top brass, which effectively sets the agenda for Pakistan’s India policy, is aimed at placating New Delhi, which has demanded prompt and decisive action against the perpetrators of the Pathankot attack, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and their handlers across the border.

The joint formulation is surprising as India’s security establishment suspects the ISI to behind the Pathankot attacks. It was also partly a response to mounting US pressure on Pakistan to act against the terrorists who engineered the Pathankot airbase assault.

 

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