Forty-eight hours after Pakistan registered an FIR in the Pathankot terror attack, plans are afoot to schedule three interactions between India and Pakistan over the next month or so, sources told The Sunday Express on Saturday.
Talks are on to schedule a visit by Pakistan’s Special Investigation Team to India, and to have a meeting between Indian and Pakistan foreign secretaries as well as between the two foreign ministers in Nepal in mid-March, on the sidelines of SAARC sessions.
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“Discussions have been underway to schedule a visit by the SIT for some time now. But that was contingent on the filing of the FIR. Now that it has been registered, it is likely that the SIT’s visit to India will take place,” a source said.
Officials from both Pakistan and India confirmed to The Sunday Express that discussions are on to schedule these visits and meetings to resume the dialogue process.
“The two sides are discussing the mandate of the SIT and the details of the visit — whether they will come to Delhi and meet the officials, or they will visit Pathankot. Even if they go to the air base, where all can they visit,” a source said.
While National Security Advisors Ajit K Doval and Pakistan’s NSA Nasser Khan Janjua have reportedly been talking to each other — mostly on the phone — Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit met Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar this week. In Islamabad, the new Indian High Commissioner, Gautam Bambawale, has been talking to Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary and Janjua. He has also met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz and special assistant on foreign affairs Tareq Fatmi.
The foreign secretaries will be in Nepal for the SAARC Standing Committee meeting on March 14 and 15, while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart Sartaj Aziz will be there on March 17 for the SAARC ministerial meeting. The possibility of a meeting between Jaishankar and Chaudhary, and Swaraj and Aziz, is being discussed.
However, the key meeting — which has been tasked to firm up the modalities for resumption of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue process — will be between Jaishankar and Chaudhary. “A call will be taken whether the meeting in Kathmandu will be about the dialogue process or the Foreign Secretary will travel to Islamabad for the substantive meeting,” sources said.
An FIR has been registered in Pakistan under Sections 302 (murder), 309 (attempt to murder) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code, 7 (punishment for acts of terror) and 21 (security to witness and judges) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, in the Pathankot case, against unknown people, not naming Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar.
Sources said filing of the FIR is a step forward and forms the “legal basis” for Pakistan’s six-member investigation team, headed by Additional Inspector General of Punjab’s Counter-Terrorism Department Rai Tahir, to probe India’s assertion that the JeM was behind the January 2 Pathankot attack.