Sharif dials Modi, promises Pakistan’s support in probing Pathankot attacks


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Amid mounting national outrage over the Pathankot terror attack, suspected to be the handiwork of a Pakistan-based militant group, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and offered the latter his country’s support in probing the attack at a key Indian Air Force base in Punjab.

In his telephonic conversation, Mr Sharif assured that his government would take “prompt and decisive action against the terrorists.”

“Prime Minister Modi strongly emphasized the need for Pakistan to take firm and immediate action against the organizations and individuals responsible for and linked to the Pathankot terrorist attack,” said India’s external affairs ministry in a statement. “Specific and actionable information in this regard has been provided to Pakistan,” the ministry stressed.

Mr Sharif’s telephone call came amid speculation about India mulling options to postpone foreign secretary-level talks, scheduled for January 14-15, in Islamabad. The atmospherics in India-Pakistan relations have changed radically since the leaders of India and Pakistan last met in Lahore on December 25. Mr Modi’s surprise trip to Lahore was hailed as the beginning of a new chapter in frosty ties between the two estranged neighbours, and has generated hope across both sides of the border about incremental normalization in sub-optimal relations. But the Pathankot terror attack, which is suspected to have been masterminded by Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Pakistan-based militant group, has cast its long shadow, and could derail the revived engagement if Islamabad does not act promptly and decisively, as Mr Sharif has promised.  

With Mr Sharif’s personal assurance to Mr Modi to probe the Pathankot attacks – although such ritualistic assurances have been offered in the past as well – there is a strong probability that India will go ahead with the FS-level talks for some blunt talk on terror that remains at the heart of tensions between the two countries.