ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office renewed on Saturday its offer to India to cooperate against terrorism.

“Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region,” said an FO statement condemning the terrorist attack on an airbase in the Indian town of Pathankot.

Even as the attack was under way, fingers started pointing towards Pakistan. Indian junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said: “We have credible information that this attack was sponsored by some elements across the border.”

Indians claim the attack was carried out by a Pakistan-based banned militant group Jaish-i-Mohammad.

In contrast to some of his ministers and senior officials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reaction was a measured one as he termed the attack a handiwork of “enemies of humanity who can’t see India progress”.

Foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India are to meet in about two weeks for discussing the modalities and timing of the dialogue process that the two countries agreed to resume last month.

Islamabad and Delhi had committed to discuss terrorism concerns at the level of National Security Advisers (NSAs) under the process that is being resumed with a new name – ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’.

Pakistan’s FO has been brainstorming on the format and modalities that it would suggest at the secretaries’ meeting. According to an insider, the Pakistani side has been considering to propose lowering the level of dialogue on terrorism concerns to interior/home secretaries’ level instead of the agreed NSAs’ level. This might become difficult now.

Immediate indications from India after the Pathankot incident suggested that the foreign secretaries’ talks would go ahead despite the setback, but the incident would impact the atmospherics. India expects to complete initial probe into the incident before the meeting and its position at the talks would depend a lot on what comes out of the investigation.

The FO said it hoped to build on the goodwill generated by recent high-level contacts. Condemning the incident, it said: “Pakistan condemns the terrorist incident in Pathankot, India, today, in which precious lives have been lost.

“We extend heartfelt condolences to the government and people of India and the bereaved families and wish the wounded speedy and full recovery,” it added.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2016

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