ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has formally initiated a police investigation into a deadly militant assault last month on an Indian air base and will try to bring to justice the “alleged attackers and their alleged abettors belonging to a proscribed organization," counterterrorism officials said Friday.
New Delhi alleges that gunmen with the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group staged the January 2 cross-border raid on its northern Pathankot air base, in which seven military personnel were killed. The attackers were also killed in the ensuing gunfight.
“Formal investigation has been launched after registration of the FIR (First Information Report). JIT (Joint Investigation Team) will investigate the case. The accused found involved in the offense will be brought to trial in accordance with law,” said a spokesman for the provincial counterterrorism department in Punjab, where the police case was filed.
The FIR said Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval informed Pakistani authorities that a group of four gunmen involved in the deadly siege had come from across the border.
“While inside India, they had been making phone calls to Pakistan … and that the attackers belonged to a proscribed organization,” it quoted Doval as saying and gave details on the phone numbers in Pakistan.
The air base attack stalled efforts to revive bilateral talks between India and Pakistan after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook an unscheduled trip to the rival nation in late December and met his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif.
Provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters the FIR demonstrates Pakistan’s counterterrorism resolve.
“We have to show through our actions that we do not accept terrorism in any form and we will not let our soil be used by non-state actors acting as freelancers, who carry out terrorism anywhere in the world. We do not have any space for them in our country," Sanaullah said.
Pakistani authorities detained JeM chief Masood Azhar, along with several other suspects, and sealed offices as well as religious schools linked to the banned group shortly after the Pathankot attack.
“We have requested India for more evidence, and if they give further evidence against Masood Azhar, or anyone else, then that person will be confronted according to that evidence," Sanaullah said.
A 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, which New Delhi also blamed on JeM, nearly provoked a fourth war between the nuclear-armed rival nations.