Islamabad : Intelligence officials today revealed that Pakistani authorities have carried out raids at different places following attack on the Pathankot air base in India, leading to some arrests. According to Intel reports, raids were carried out in Gujranwala, Jhelum and Bahawalpur districts and an unspecified number of people were arrested. After the arrests, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the formation of a high-profile joint investigation team (JIT), the task of which was to mainly investigate the links of the Pathankot air base attackers with Pakistan, as revealed by media reports today.
This decision of PM Sharif regarding formation of JIT is an after step taken in continuance of the leads provided by India which, cast its shadow on the Foreign Secretary-level talks, scheduled for January 15. The decision to form the JIT, comprising officials from Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by PM Sharif recently, as said by The Express Tribune’s media report.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were among the ones who attended the meeting. The report said, Prime Minister Sharif ‘is taking an active role in getting to the bottom of the Pathankot incident…. and also discussed the issue with army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and took him on board about the decision to form a JIT.
It is being interpreted that this investigation would present itself as a major test of the PM’s to move Pakistan-India relationship forward and to break the cycle of off-again on-again talks between the two neighbors.
New Delhi : Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today emphatically stated that any individual or organisation causing pain to India should be paid back in the same coin but how, when and where should reside on us, and should be our choice. DefMin was making the remark with reference to Pathankot terror attack and its aftermath. Parrikar was addressing a gentry of Army personnel, and the audience mainly consisted of top brass of the Army, including Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag.
Parikkar reminisced events of the past, and making a reference to history sheets, he said, history tells us that until those who inflict damage on others experience the same pain, they don’t change.In his exact words — I am of the opinion, it should not be taken as a government thinking, I always believe that if anyone harms you, he understands the same language. How, when and place should be of your choice but if someone is harming this country, then that particular individual or organisation, I purposely used the words individual and organisation, should also receive the pain of such activities.
Elaborating on his abovesaid statements, DefMin later added — Basic principle is that until we give them pain, whoever they may be, until then, such incidents will not reduce. The minister, keeping Pathankot attacks on his mind, said, the country was proud of its seven soldiers who laid down their lives but he stood pained by the loss. He said — I don’t appreciate it. I have said that it is time we tell our soldiers that it is inevitable that we will lose some soldiers, and in this incident we lost one person in actual combat.
Kabul : Today’s meeting in Islamabad could revive a talk process that disrupted last summer, after Afghanistan announced that Mullah Mohammad Omar, founder and leader of the Taliban, had died in a Pakistani hospital more than two years ago. That announcement had forced the Taliban to pull out of the talks after just one meeting hosted by Islamabad. What followed was a subsequent power struggle within the Taliban which had strongly raised questions about who would represent the insurgents if and when the talks with Kabul are restarted.
Analysts do stand skeptical on the revival of talks and seem to suggest with a deep amount of caution that despite the rapprochement between Kabul and Islamabad, any substantive peace talks appear to be a distant reality, and would likely be still many months off. Pakistan’s relations with Kabul had been tense in past times in recent months, and war of words have flown from both sides as the two countries have long accused each other of backing the Taliban and other insurgents operating along their porous border.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani participated in a regional conference last month in Islamabad, which called for the resumption of the Afghan-Taliban peace negotiations. To lay a warm carpet of invite, Ghani was given a warm welcome at the meeting, which was also attended by US and Chinese representatives.
The meeting today revolves around the agenda where Pakistan is expected to present a list of Talibanis willing to negotiate with Kabul at a meeting this week aimed at reviving the Afghan peace process, as confirmed by an afghan official last evening. Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States are scheduled to meet in Islamabad today to discuss a road map for peace talks. The meeting will not include the Taliban.
Javid Faisal, deputy spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, said that Pakistan’s list will include Taliban who do and do not want talks with Kabul on ending the 15-year war. Earlier, Pakistan had agreed to cut off financial support to Taliban fighters based in Pakistani cities, including Quetta and Peshawar, he added, saying, insurgents based in Pakistan would not be allowed to resettle in Afghanistan. He clearly mentioned that the agreement would also include bilateral cooperation on eliminating terrorism.
New Delhi : Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al Moualem will arrive here today on a four-day visit to India and meet with Indian leaders on a set agenda. The visit is scheduled for holding talks with leaders between both nations in the backdrop of escalating air strikes against ISIS by Russia.
Moualem, who happens to hold the portfolio of External affairs ministry with self, is also Minister of Foreign Affairs in Syria. He will discuss on a one-on-one interaction with the Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and bring to the table of discussion, a host of bilateral issues besides the situation in his conflict ridden country.
The visit comes at a time when major players, including the US, are pushing for a dialogue to end the crisis. The global nations are working together to attempt a resolve to the crisis, as, more than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria in the past four years and seven million have fled to other countries due to the continuing civil war.
With countries standing at opposite ends on critical matters related to the crisis, the West is pressing for ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Russia and China are against the move. India and Syria, in this meet, will attempt to bridge a consensus of opinion on syrian crisis and the two leaders in External affairs ministry would put forth their nation’s standpoint and work out ways and means to contribute towards co-operative relief to end the crisis.