NEW DELHI: India linked on Tuesday Pakistan to a militant attack on an air base that killed seven soldiers in January.
India had previously blamed militants from the extremist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) for the assault on Pathankot air base in the northern state of Punjab, which triggered two days of gunbattles.
But on Tuesday New Delhi said the militants could not have carried out the brazen attack on the air base near the border without Pakistan’s support.
“Pakistan’s non-state actors were definitely behind the attack. Also, no non-state actor from there (Pakistan) can function smoothly without the state’s support,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told parliament.
“The entire details of the attack will only come out in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigation,” he said.
The NIA, a federal police unit that investigates terror offences, is carrying out a probe into the case.
The rare targeting of an Indian military installation outside the disputed region of Kashmir came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan in December.
It led to the postponement of peace talks planned between the nuclear-armed arch-rivals, with Modi urging his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to take “firm and immediate action”.
The foreign secretaries of the two countries had been scheduled to meet in January. No fresh date has been announced.
The federal government banned JeM in 2002, a year after it was blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament that took the two neighbours to the brink of war.
It also arrested the group’s leader in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks but he was later released.