India has decided to approach investigation agencies in other countries, including the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to probe the Pathankot airbase attack.
According to Indian news channel CNN-IBN, official sources say help has been sought from some agencies, including the FBI, to track cyber-footprints left by handlers of the attackers and for tracing the weapons and other equipment carried by the attackers.
Pathankot attack: JIT winds up probe in India
At least four attackers had stormed the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on January 2. The ensuing 80-hour long standoff left seven security officials dead. India had blamed the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) for the attack and provided Pakistan evidence related to it.
Based on the information provided, Pakistan lodged an FIR in February and formed a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which visited India last week to visit the crime scene and record statements of witnesses.
Indian investigators point to the emergence of a video immediately after the attack in which Abdul Rauf – brother of JeM chief Masood Azhar – allegedly claims responsibility for the attack. The video was reportedly posted on websites “alqalam.com” and “rangonoor.com”, both of which were hosted by a US-based domain service provider.
While ‘alqalam’ was removed before the JIT’s arrival, the other website remains active, though Rauf’s video has now been removed. India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) is now trying to track payments made for the websites, which were routed through a European country.
Pathankot attack probe: JIT records statements of 13 witnesses
Focus on terrorism
India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that terrorism is India’s central issue of discussion with Pakistan, and will remain so unless Islamabad addresses it ‘effectively’.
“Until we are able to address the issue (terrorism) effectively, obviously it is hard for us to say that the relationship is normal. Because this is what puts Pakistan in a different category than our other neighbours,” he said during a speech at the launch of Indian chapter of Carnegie think tank in New Delhi, Economic Times reported.
“That factor was reflected when the two prime ministers met in Ufa and the two NSAs (National Security Advisers) met in Bangkok.”
Pathankot attack probe: Pakistan, Indian investigators start formal deliberations
He added that terrorism remains the focus of their relationship with Pathankot “making it so as well.”
But Jaishankar suggested that economic ties and people-to-people contacts can contribute towards bilateral relations.
Access to some witnesses denied
Pakistan on Wednesday said that the five-member investigation team was denied access to witnesses belonging to Indian security forces.
Nafees Zakaria, the Foreign Office spokesperson, said in a statement on Wednesday that during its five-day visit from March 27 to April 1 the JIT was given a presentation by the NIA in addition to visiting the crime scene and recording statements of some witnesses. The team also briefed Indian investigators about progress made in Pakistan.
“However, the witnesses belonging to the Indian security forces were not produced before it.”
He added that the visit took place in the context of “cooperative approach” by Islamabad and that further investigations are under way.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2016.
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