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