Five Pakistani intelligence and police officials will arrive in India Sunday morning as part of that country’s investigation into the Pathankot terror attack, government sources have told The Indian Express.
Led by Punjab counter-terrorism department’s Additional Inspector-General Muhammad Tahir Rai, the members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) include Deputy Director-General, Lahore, of Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau Mohammed Azim Arshad and military intelligence officer Lieutenant-Colonel Irfan Mirza. Lieutenant-Colonel Tanvir Ahmad, who is serving with Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), will become the first officer in the Pakistani covert service to visit an Indian military facility with official permission, sources said.
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Inspector Shahid Tanveer, a Punjab police officer based in Gujranwala, is the fifth member of the team. He has formal charge of Pakistan’s investigation in the case under its Anti-Terrorism Act.
Government sources said the team, which will fly in on a special jet, is expected to land around 11.30 am. On Monday, they will visit the NIA headquarters, where Indian investigators will conduct a 90-minute presentation for the visiting team.
On Tuesday, they will be taken to Pathankot in a BSF aircraft, but they won’t land inside the airbase, sources said, adding that they will only be taken to the “limited area relevant to the investigation”. The airbase had been “visually barricaded”, the sources said, and NIA will take them around where it deems fit.
“The most important meetings from India’s point of view will be on Wednesday, when it has been agreed that we will be able to ask questions on the status of the investigation in Pakistan,” a government official said.
NIA investigators are expected to seek details on arrests in Pakistan, and the action it has taken on the basis of intercepted telephone call records handed over by NSA Ajit Doval to his Pakistani counterpart, Lieutenant-General Nasir Janjua.
“There’s very little we need to actually know from Pakistan”, an official said. “We are armed with the actual identities of the perpetrators, their connections to the handlers, and a mass of evidence which shows precisely when they crossed into India from across the border at Bamiyal, in Punjab. What we would like to know is what they were planning to do”.
Sources said that in deliberations with the Pakistan team, India would share Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar’s brother Rauf Azhar’s assertion that the four terrorists entered the Pathankot airbase and carried out an attack. They added that India has the recording of the claim, which is also available on websites such as Alqalam.com and Rangnoor.com.
The Indian side will also share identities of the four dead terrorists, their parents, hometown and facilitators, the sources said. They said the NIA will seek information on many subjects related to JeM and Masood Azhar, since it believes Azhar was the mastermind behind the attack.
The JIT will be free to question witnesses, who have been called to Delhi, sources said. A total of 17 witnesses, including the injured, have been lined up. However, no security personnel will be allowed to be examined. Sources said that as of now, the JIT has not sought to meet NSA Ajit K Doval.
Islamabad is yet to formally notify India on the status of its investigation into the case, although PM Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy advisor, Sartaj Aziz, has said police there have traced calls made by the slain perpetrators to Jaish-e-Mohammad’s headquarters in Pakistan.
Aziz also said Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar is being held in what he called “protective custody”—a term normally used when police hold a person to prevent an imminent threat to her or his life.