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Pathankot attack: ‘Pakistan investigators likely to visit India soon’

ISLAMABAD: “A special investigating team (SIT), constituted by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is likely to visit India, shortly, in order to collect details of the Pathankot attack,” said the Foreign Office of Pakistan on Thursday.

Answering news men during the weekly media briefing, FO spokesperson Nafees Zakria reminded that Pakistan had condemned Pathankot terrorist attack and that it extended full cooperation since approached by the neighboring country.

He said that a team of investigators is likely to visit India soon, for which both sides are in contact with each other.

Nawaz-Modi meeting ‘not on the table’

When asked about, as speculated, a meeting between Pak-India premiers on the sidelines of Washington Nuclear Security Summit next month, the spokesperson denied clearly: “There is no such proposal is on the table.”

India’s defense buildup to disturb strategic stability

Zakria said the defense buildup pursued by India will disturb strategic stability in the region. He also voiced concerns over exceptional treatment being meted out to New Delhi by Nuclear Supplier Group.

He said Pakistan seeks peace in the region and is therefore against any arms race.

The spokesperson categorically rejected any obstacles in the way of Pakistan-India foreign secretary level talks.

He said both the sides are in touch with each other to work out mutually convenient dates for the talks.

To a question, the spokesperson said Kashmiris’ movement for their right to self-determination is indigenous which enjoys popular support. He said it cannot be linked with any terrorism.

In response to another query, he said the launch of final phase of Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan is a clear manifestation of Pakistan’s resolve to root out the menace of terrorism.

Below is full text of the FO briefing:

Question

Regarding the Quadrilateral Process on Afghanistan, there are media reports that the Taliban have communicated certain conditions for coming to the table, including removing their leadership’s names off the UN list of proscribed organizations. What is Pakistan’s position on this?

Secondly, have all the Taliban groups been invited to the talks?

Answer

It was decided with consensus that the talks under the QCG process will be without pre-conditions.

Regarding the second part of your question, it was stated in the Joint Press Release after the fourth meeting of the QCG that all groups have been invited.

Question

A lot of media speculations are going on after the registering of the Pathankot FIR. This is the first time that such an FIR has been registered in Pakistan. For some, it appears to be an admission of involvement in the Pathankot attack. Would it not have been better for the investigation if the FIR would not have been registered?

Answer

You may recall that Pakistan had condemned Pathankot terrorist attack. Since the time India approached us, we have extended full cooperation. A Special Investigating Team (SIT), constituted by the Prime Minister, is likely to visit India, shortly. Both sides are in contact with each other with regard to the visit.

Question

There is speculation that the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India will meet on the sidelines of the Washington Nuclear Security Summit next month. Any update on this and whether India has approached us in this regard?

Secondly, the Samjhauta Express and Dosti Bus service were recently suspended. Whenever India stops these services due to any reason, travelers from both sides undergo a lot of suffering. Has Pakistan taken up the issue with the Indian side?

Answer

Regarding the first part of your question, no such proposal is on the table.

Regarding suspension of Samjhauta Express/ Dosti Bus services, it was due to unrest and the ensuing security situation in a part of India. India had requested us to stop the services on our side due to the precarious situation. Both the Diplomatic Missions were in touch with their respective host governments to assist the stranded passengers. Pakistan facilitated the Indian request and extended due assistance to the Indian passengers. Our High Commission in Delhi was also in touch with the Indian Government and we expect that similar cooperation would be extended by the Indian Government to the stranded Pakistani passengers on their side.

Question

In the standoff in the Pulwama district of Indian Kashmir, the Kashmiri fighters inside the building did not take any hostages, rather helped all inhabitants of the building to leave. This is a different and unique pattern in which Kashmiri lives were protected. Do you think they were terrorists or freedom fighters?

Secondly, cricket is a tool for people to people contact. Pakistan has not yet announced its participation in the upcoming T20 World Cup in India. What is the view of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard? Should Pakistan not participate in the World Cup as it would lead to more people to people contact?

Answer

For the second part of your question, kindly contact Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). As far as our policy is concerned, Pakistan believes in people to people interaction. This has been going on for a long time on various counts and had also been part of the dialogue.

As regard Pulwama incident, you are aware Kashmiris are engaged in an indigenous struggle for self-determination since 1989.  More than 80 thousand Kashmiris have been martyred, several thousands have been maimed and thousands are missing, leaving behind “half widows”, who do not know whether their husbands are alive or martyred. The world was appalled on the discovery of the mass graves in Kashmir in 2009. Kashmiris have never hurt anyone as stated in your question itself. The indigenous Kashmiri freedom movement enjoys popular support but some detractors try to portray it as terrorism.  However, the world community is not naive.

Question

This refers to the first direct talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban that are likely to take place in the first week of March. Are we taking precautionary measures to pre-empt any move by the spoilers group within the Afghan Government who might try to derail the talks as it happened in the past when the news of Mulla Omar’s death was leaked to derail the talks at that stage?

Answer

In the Joint Press Release issued after the fourth round of the QCG talks and similarly after the 06 February 2016 meeting, I had stated in a briefing that all four countries that constitute the QCG have a joint responsibility to move the reconciliation process forward and make a direct dialogue between Afghan Government and various Taliban Groups and others possible.  It is realized that peace in Afghanistan is very important for the regional stability and progress. At the 4th QCG meeting in Kabul, the implementation of the roadmap agreed during the third round was reviewed and all the four countries reiterated their commitment to the reconciliation process and invited all Taliban and other groups to the negotiation table.

Question

Do you have any confirmation regarding the visit of the Iranian President to Pakistan? What preparations have been done for this high profile visit?  

Answer

You may recall that our Prime Minister had paid a bilateral visit to Iran. Now, the Iranian leadership’s visit to Pakistan is contemplated for which both sides are working out mutually convenient dates.

Question

In a recent statement, the US State Department Spokesperson said that terrorist “safe heavens” still existed in Pakistan. This is despite a successful operation by Pakistan against all militants. Senior US military officials also keep on repeating the above allegations. What is Pakistan doing to address these concerns?

Secondly, the Indian Defence Minister is also making provocative statements and asking Pakistan to take more steps with regard to the Pathankot incident. Your comments.

Answer

Pakistan’s policy to eliminate terrorism within the country and our immense sacrifices have been acknowledged by the international community, including the US leadership. You would have also seen reports that Pakistan has announced the final phase of operation Zarb-Azb, which is a manifestation of our firm resolve and determination to eradicate the menace.  Pakistan’s sacrifices are unparalleled having lost more than sixty thousand innocent citizens, including more than five thousand valiant soldiers and law enforcement personnel, who laid their lives in the fight against terrorism. Therefore, there should be no doubt about Pakistan’s total commitment to eliminate terrorism. Terrorism is not only Pakistan’s problem but also of the region and the world, at large, for which all need to cooperate with each other.

Question

Pakistan and India are talking on multiple issues currently. I want to ask about investigations into the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack. Pakistan has taken many steps to investigate the Pathankot incident but has any step been taken by India to punish those who planned the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack?

Answer

Our stance on the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack is well known. We have taken up the issue with India many times, asking them to share the outcome of their investigations with us. However, they have not done so. We have reminded them repeatedly to take action against Swami Aseemanand, a RSS activist and mastermind of the terrorist attack on Samjhauta Express in which many Pakistanis lost their lives. He had confessed to his crime and also testified about involvement of active service Indian military officer, Col. Purohit in the terrorist attack. We have asked India to take action against these individuals and bring them to justice. Many Indian leaders had assured us regarding sharing of the investigation outcome but this has not been done.

Question

On the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack and the release of the mastermind of the attack, has Pakistan formally protested to India?

Answer

Like I said earlier, we have time and again taken up this issue with the Indian side. We have repeatedly reminded India to take action against those terrorists.

Question

The Stockholm Institute stated in its report that India is the largest arms importer in the world. Your comment on this?

Answer

If you visit Ministry of Foreign Affairs website you will find a very comprehensive statement made by the Foreign Secretary, including on this issue. This was part of his talk on the launch of nuclear paper series, which he delivered at the leading think-tank, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. We seek peace in South Asia. We are against any arms race. Due to the massive defence build-up by India and the discriminatory treatment given to India by the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), a number of analysts have concluded that these policies will disturb the strategic balance in the region. You are aware that yesterday an important meeting of the National Command Authority (NCA) took place in Islamabad where this issue was also deliberated upon. I suggest that you see the press release for details.

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