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Once again, Pakistan pokes a finger in India's eye

By Rajeev Sharma
April 03, 2016 09:35 IST

'India's worst fears have come true because the Pakistan investigating team has, obediently and dutifully, done its masters' bidding by giving a clean chit to Pakistan, the Jaish, the ISI and all other well known actors,' says Rajeev Sharma.

Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, left.Expect the expected!

Pakistan's Geo TV channel has just come up with a report based on unidentified and unnamed sources saying that India failed to provide evidence to the Pakistani Joint Investigation Team for the January 2-5 terror attack on the Pathankot airbase.

The Geo TV report can be accessed here: http://www.geo.tv/latest/103300-India-failed-to-provide-evidence-to-Pakistan-JIT-for-Pathankot-Attack

If this report is correct, it will virtually mean apocalypse for India-Pakistan bilateral relations.

If correct, it would mean a rude reality check for the Narendra Modi government that has invested huge political and diplomatic capital in improving relations with Pakistan by some out-of-the-box and unprecedented initiatives by Prime Minister Modi 100 days ago, climaxing in his impromptu visit to Lahore on Christmas Day.

The world will know shortly about the conclusions of the Pakistani JIT which completed a five-day visit to India which included a brief visit to the crime scene at the Pathankot airbase.

The Geo TV report mentions that the Pakistani JIT was at the military base for 55 minutes and this brief duration was only enough to take a walk through the airbase, but not enough for it to collect evidence of Pakistani involvement in the attack.

Interestingly, the Congress party had predicted a day before the Geo TV report that the Pakistani JIT had found nothing to link the main suspect, Masood Azhar's Jaish-e-Mohammed, with the Pathankot terror attack.

'Credible reports suggest that the Pak team has already reported/concluded that they have found nothing to link JeM/Azhar to the dastardly Pathankot attacks, despite this being a globally and universally accepted truth...' Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said on April 1

India's worst fears have come true because the Pakistan investigating team has, obediently and dutifully, done its masters' bidding by giving a clean chit to Pakistan, the Jaish, the ISI and all other well known actors.

The Geo TV report is on expected lines and there is little to expect that the official version of the JIT report, as and when it appears in the public domain, will be any different.

However, it may well be possible that the JIT's official report may give the Indian government some elbow room.

It is extremely unlikely that Pakistan will allow an Indian investigation team access to Masood Azhar and his cronies, that is if the Indian team is allowed to travel to Pakistan in the first place.

This is a major dampener and a reality check for the Modi government. The other day BJP President Amit Shah had spoken reassuringly about Pakistan and its JIT. But now the chickens are coming home to roost for the Modi government.

One must not forget the wider strategic nuances that came to light in recent days. Pakistan must have been emboldened by China's blocking Indian efforts at the United Nations to seek UN action against Masood Azhar.

Obviously, the Chinese move was choreographed by Pakistan and it demonstrated yet again the 'sweeter than honey, deeper than the ocean and higher than the mountains' relationship between Pakistan and China.

Prime Minister Modi did not get a chance to meet with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Washington, DC on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. Sharif cancelled his Washington visit after the deadly terror attack in a Lahore park.

This constricts the political and diplomatic space for Modi even further.

The focus will inevitably shift to National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his interactions with his Pakistani counterpart, General Naseer Janjua.

Doval will be under immense pressure to bring India back in the thriller of a Test match being played between India and Pakistan at political levels. Time is at a premium.

Rajeev Sharma is an independent journalist and strategic analyst who tweets @Kishkindha

Rajeev Sharma
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