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Pak arrests some Pathankot suspects; Sharif orders joint investigation team

Last updated on: January 11, 2016 15:23 IST

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered formation of a high-profile joint investigation team to investigate the links of the Pathankot air base attackers with Pakistan, a media report said on Monday.

Earlier, Pakistani authorities carried out raids at different places following attack on the Pathankot air base in India, leading to some arrests, intelligence officials said. They said that raids were carried out in Gujranwala, Jhelum and Bahawalpur districts and an unspecified number of people were arrested.
 
"Probe has been going to ascertain if they were involved in the attack or some of them facilitated it," they said.
 
Sharif's decision to form the JIT came after the leads provided by India which has linked the Foreign Secretary-level talks, scheduled for January 15, to Islamabad's decisive action on the Pathankot terror attack.

The decision to form the JIT, comprising officials from the Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Sharif recently, The Express Tribune said.

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 attended the meeting.

Sharif "is taking an active role in getting to the bottom of the Pathankot incident," a prime minister's house source was quoted as saying by the paper.

"He also discussed the issue with army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and took him on board about the decision to form a JIT," the source added.

"This investigation will be a major test of the prime minister to move Pakistan-India relationship forward and to break the cycle of off-again on-again talks between the two neighbours," the source added.

In a pre-dawn attack on January 2, a group of heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists, suspected to be belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit, struck at the Air Force base in Pathankot.

Indian intelligence reports suggested that groups and people in Pakistan planned and executed the strike.

India has provided "specific and actionable information in this regard" to Pakistan.

The evidence is said to include some voice recordings and the cellular phone numbers of the attackers' handlers which were traced to Pakistan. Sharif has assured leaders from India and the US that Pakistan will investigate the matter and make the results public.

Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi being given a presentation on counter-terrorist and combing operation by the Defence Forces, at Pathankot Airbase. The Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh is also seen. Photograph: PIB

Sajjad Hussain in Islamabad
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