The government agreed to allow Pakistani investigators to visit Pathankot after receiving a written commitment that the evidence gathered would be used to pursue a criminal case against the perpetrators, diplomatic sources have told The Indian Express.
In a March 1 letter, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the evidence was necessary to enable “the building of a strong prosecution case”.
Following a meeting with National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers in New Delhi, Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team is scheduled to travel to Pathankot airbase Tuesday.
In the letter, sources said, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry promised that the team would process the material it obtained professionally to “ensure admissibility of the evidence in a relevant court of law”.
The letter also suggested that Pakistani investigators had identified families of the four perpetrators who the NIA believes were Jaish-e-Muhammad operatives. Forensic samples, it stated, should be given to the JIT “for their possible match with specimens of relevant individuals in Pakistan”.
India has been trying to return the bodies of the four perpetrators to Pakistan. The process, government sources said, would not be possible until DNA samples established that the perpetrators were in fact Pakistani citizens.
“The last government,” a senior diplomat said, “made a mistake after 26/11 by not allowing Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency to gather crime-scene evidence, or to summon Indian witnesses to the trial. The only result was to give the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s lawyers a handle to sabotage the case.”
“Even though we are unclear how far this process will go,” the diplomat said, “we don’t want to give Pakistan an opportunity to blame India for failing to cooperate in the investigation.”
New Delhi, government sources said, is willing to make available witnesses to depose in any future criminal trial in Pakistan, either through video-link or in person. “There’s nothing for us to hide,” a senior Home Ministry official said.