New Delhi: The attack on the IAF air base in Pathankot has put the Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan under a shadow of doubt, with India now placing the onus of contiuation of the revived bilateral talks on Pakistan.
"The ball is in Pakistan's court. The immediate issue is Pakistan's response to the Pathankot attack and actionable intelligence provided to it," External Affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said today.
Swarup also emphasised that the Pathankot attack had put cross-border terrorism back into focus. "Cross-border terrorism is again in focus after the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air force base," he said, adding that India was not derailing the dialogue.
Swarup said Pakistan has assured India of prompt action against those involved or responsible for the attack and India is waiting for its action against the terrorists. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif, who assured of prompt response," he said, adding that "we now await prompt and decisive action from the Pakistan prime minister".
Seven security personnel were killed in the attack early Saturday morning on the Pathankot Air Force Station by six terrorists who crossed over from Pakistan. All the six terrorists were killed by security forces later.
"We initiated the process of dialogue with Pakistan. But this does not mean that we will tolerate terrorism. India has provided actionable intelligence to Pakistan. Pakistan needs to act now," he said, casting a shadow of doubt over the highly anticipated talks between the two countries scheduled for the 14th and 15th this month.
India has not announced the dates of the Foreign Secretary-level talks as it waits for action on the Pathankot perpetrators by Pakistan.
Both sides witnessed a thaw in the relations with the visit of External Affiars minister Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan where she met Sharif. The National Security Advisors of both sides also met in Bangkok late last year. This was followed up by PM Modi's surprise visit to Lahore.
Pakistan likely to act on Pathankot perpetrators within 72 hours
Pakistan is likely to initiate stern action against the perpetrators of the terror attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot that left security personnel dead and several others injured, Pakistani media has said.
The meeting which also saw Sharif's Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, among other high-ranking officials, in attendance, is said to have taken up a review of the evidence furnished by India, which includes intercepts of phone calls made by the six terrorists who crossed the border last week and launched the assault.
"Issues pertaining to national and regional security were discussed during the meeting," the Prime Minister's Office here said in a brief statement. According to Pakistani sources, Sharif took stock of the leads provided by India regarding the Pathankot attack and has asked officials to speed up work on the leads given by India.
The decision to initiate action against those who purportedly orchestrated the attack is said to have come at a high-level meeting called by Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today, senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir told India TV. According to Mir, who spoke to the Pakistani PM personally, stern action on the perpetrators of the Pathankot attack is likely to come within the next 72 hours.
The high-profile meeting was attended by Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance; Nisar Ali Khan, Minister for Interior; Sartaj Aziz, Advisor on Foreign Affairs; Lt Gen (Retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, National Security Advisor; Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary; Aftab Sultan, chief of Intelligence Bureau and other Pakistani officials.
India has also handed Pakistan names of those believed to be involved in the Pathankot attack and sought action against Jaish handlers Ashfaq Ahmad, Hafiz Abdul Shakoor, Kasim Jaan and Maulana Masood Azhar. The Pakistani government is believed to be initiating action against them on the basis of the names it has received from India.
India believes that the brazen attack on the Pathankot air base was planned and executed by the Pakistan-based militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Pakistan's PM Sharif had earlier called up Narendra Modi in the aftermath of the attack and promised 'prompt and decisive action' against individuals and groups involved in the attack. Modi is believed to have sought immediate action from Pakistan against those responsible for the attack.
“Specific and actionable information in this regard has been provided to Pakistan,” an Indian statement said. Pakistan had also condemned the Pathankot attack officially.
(With Agency inputs)