Pathankot probe team seeks more evidence from India

Published February 1, 2016
Indian police officials and dog squad members walk along railway tracks at a station in Jammu on January 3, 2016, after security was increased on railways in northern India following the Pathankot air base attack. ─ AFP/File
Indian police officials and dog squad members walk along railway tracks at a station in Jammu on January 3, 2016, after security was increased on railways in northern India following the Pathankot air base attack. ─ AFP/File

LAHORE: A federal government team investigating the Pathankot airbase attack has asked the foreign ministry to seek more evidence from India because there has been “no headway” so far in the probe.

“The team has almost completed its investigation into five cellphone numbers (allegedly used for making calls from Pakistan to India) provided by the Indian government. No further leads were found from these numbers because they were unregistered and had fake identities,” a source privy to the development told Dawn on Sunday.

“The probe is not heading further. The team needs more evidence. Therefore, it has written to the government to speak to India and apprise it of the situation and demand more evidence to move forward in investigation here,” he said.

Answering a question about the people, including banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, detained in connection with the Pathankot incident, the source said: “Let first more evidence come from India.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had formed the six-member investigation team headed by the Additional Inspector General of Punjab’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in the second week of January to look into Indian government’s allegations that the JeM was behind the Pathankot attack.

The team comprising AIG CTD Punjab Rai Tahir (convener), Additional AIG of CTD Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Salahuddin Khan, Intelligence Bureau (IB) Lahore Director Azeem Arshad, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore Director Usman Anwar, Brigadier Noman Saeed of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Lt Col Irfan Mirza of Military Intelligence has so far held two meetings.

The prime minister told reporters in Lahore on Saturday that the investigation was under way and its findings would be made public. “Whatever facts come out we will bring them forth before everyone,” he said, adding that Pakistan would go to “any length” to uncover the alleged use of its soil (in the Pathankot incident).

“It is our responsibility to uncover if our soil was used in the attack. We will do this and the ongoing investigation will be completed soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, law-enforcement agencies have not produced before court any of the ‘suspects’ arrested in connection with the Pathankot incident over the past two weeks (since their detention).

The government has not disclosed the number of suspects detained. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah only confirmed that Maulana Masood Azhar had been taken into “protective custody”, along with some of his ‘accomplices’. “He (Masood) is not arrested,” the minister clarified.

India says Masood Azhar was the mastermind of the attack. It alleges that his brother Rauf and five others were also involved in the Jan 2 attack which left all six terrorists and seven Indian soldiers dead.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2016

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