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ISLAMABAD: A special investigation team set up in Pakistan to probe a deadly assault on an Indian airbase last month found no evidence implicating the leader of the group India blamed for the attack, Pakistani security officials said on Monday.

The officials said the team interrogated Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his associates and found no evidence linking him with the Jan 2 attack on the Pathankot airbase in northern India that killed seven Indian military personnel.

“We searched their homes, seminaries, hideouts and also examined their call records for past three months and found nothing dubious,” a security official with links to the investigating team said.

The raid on the airbase stalled efforts to revive talks between the neighbours after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled visit to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in December.

Investigating team has not ruled out the possibility of involvement of other JeM members

India has long accused Pakistan of using Kashmir-based militants like JeM as a proxy to mount attacks on Indian soil.

A 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, which India also blamed on Jaish-e-Mohammad, nearly led to a war between the nations.

Pakistan denies giving any aid to Kashmir-based militants.

Indian government officials claim Jaish-e-Mohammad was also behind the Pathankot attack and say they provided evidence to the Pakistani government to prove it.

A spokesman for India’s foreign ministry declined to comment on reports of the special investigation team’s findings.

In January, authorities detained Maulana Azhar and several members of JeM, sealed offices belonging to the outfit, and shut down several religious schools run by the group.

The security officials said on Monday that Maulana Azhar remained in custody, but did not say whether authorities were considering his release.

The investigating team has not ruled out the possibility that other members of JeM may have been involved, the officials said.

It also continued to look into groups affiliated with the United Jihad Council, an alliance of pro-Pakistan militant groups based in Azad Kashmir that claimed responsibility for the assault in Pathankot.

Jaish-e-Mohammad did not claim responsibility for the attack, but praised it in a statement released a few days after the incident.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2016

Comments (13) Closed

Atul Feb 09, 2016 07:41am

Closing your eyes thinking nobody is watching you..!

Vishal Feb 09, 2016 08:03am

Only if there is will there is a way

Sekhar Feb 09, 2016 08:10am

As we all expected. Good job Pakistan.... Wait and Watch

Udaya Bose Feb 09, 2016 08:21am

This finding was not unexpected.

RD Feb 09, 2016 08:37am

Change before it is too late! World is watching you. You should not complain when Afghanistan gives you the same response.

india_first Feb 09, 2016 08:37am

Decision took long time which was known from the day evidence was given. If evidence would have been given by US to Pakistan then the decision could have been different.

sm Feb 09, 2016 08:53am

Anybody can bring a horse to the pond but nobody can make it drink. It will drink only when thirsty.

-Someone wise

Sr Feb 09, 2016 09:05am

@Atul can't be said better

Nilesh Feb 09, 2016 09:18am

Take action, think only few cross the border to harm India, but thousands with that mindset are present in your country.... This mindset needs to be defeated together.....

Shubs Feb 09, 2016 09:18am

This was Pakistan's last chance to redeem itself. Already isolated and ostracised by the global community it barely escapes being labelled as a state sponsor of terrorism by simply being "too dangerous to fail". Just like China is rapidly running out of patience with its other failed client state, North Korea, soon it will realise that even access to a warm water port is not worth the trouble of sponsoring an international pariah state. And then what is Pakistan going to do? You cannot eat nuclear weapons unfortunately.

Zak Feb 09, 2016 09:26am

India should give complete access to all defense installations in order for Pakistan to gather evidence and help India to bring perpetrators of pathankot attack to justice.

tarikm Feb 09, 2016 09:34am

took me to my school days, I had a classmate . he wrote code and tried to compile it . had gotten error . with out resurrecting his code , he was compiling again and again. while i asked him what he was doing. he told me " one day compiler will be generous and my code will be complied". India is stupid like my friend. one day it will work by giving evidence to offender.

Third Party Feb 09, 2016 09:38am

This was expected...Nothing more is expected...!!