India issues visa to 5-member Pak Pathankot probe team
Islamabad : India today issued visas to five members of a Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) who will travel to the country on Sunday to carry forward the probe into the brazen Pathankot Air Base attack, blamed on Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants.
“We have issued visas to five Pakistani officials, who will be going to India to get evidence about the Pathankot attack,” an Indian High Commission spokesperson said here.
The members of the JIT are scheduled to leave for India on March 27.
The five-member probe team comprises senior officials from both the military intelligence as well as civil administration and is headed by the Chief of Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Additional Inspector General of Police Muhammad Tahir Rai.
Other members include Lahore Deputy Director General Intelligence Bureau Mohammad Azim Arshad, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed, Military Intelligence Lt Col Irfan Mirza and Gujjaranwala CTD Investigating Officer Shahid Tanveer.
This will be the first time that Pakistani intelligence and police officials are travelling to India to investigate a terror attack.
The team is expected to examine the weapons used by the terrorists carrying out the assault on IAF base in Pathankot besides recording the statements of the victims, Pakistani media reports said.
Earlier, Pakistan had constituted a six-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) for the initial probe into the case based on the leads provided by India.
India had agreed to allow the Pakistani JIT to visit the Pathankot Air Base after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz in Kathmandu on the sidelines of SAARC Ministerial meeting on March 17.
Swaraj had said that the Pakistani investigators will reach India on March 27 and will begin their work on 28.
India has been pressing Pakistan for action over the brazen assault on the key IAF base on January 2 in which seven Indian security personnel were killed. In the gun-battle, six terrorists were also killed.
The attack led to the postponement of a scheduled meeting between Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India in January in Islamabad.
On February 18, Pakistan had lodged an FIR in connection with the Pathankot terror attack without naming JeM chief Masood Azhar who India has accused of having masterminded the strike.
The FIR by the Counter-Terrorism Department of Punjab police was lodged on the basis of information provided by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval that the attackers crossed from Pakistan into India and attacked the airbase.