- Indian FO spokesman says both countries have mutually agreed to delay foreign secretary-level talks ‘for a date in the very near future’
- Swarup says India welcomes action taken against Jaish as Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah confirms that Maulana Masood Azhar has been taken into ‘protective custody’ by CTD Punjab
- Security agencies seal two madrassas in Sialkot and Bahawalpur for suspected links with Jaish-e-Muhammad, several suspects also arrested
Pakistan’s actions into intelligence provided by India and US seemed to have worked their magic and Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup has indicated that India will not entirely rule out the possibility of talks with Pakistan but would be delaying them to a date in the very near future.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office on the other hand has said that it has no knowledge of a possible meeting of the National Security Advisers of both countries. It also refused to confirm information that Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of the banned militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad, had been taken into custody for investigating the outfit’s alleged role in the attack on the Pathankot airbase in India.
However, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan late on Thursday night confirmed that Masood Azhar had been taken into “protective custody” by the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department and two madrassas in Sialkot and Bahawalpur had also been sealed for suspected links with the banned militant group.
He added that the madrassa in Bahawalpur was being run by Masood Azhar’s brother.
Sources told Pakistan Today that several suspects had been taken into custody in the raid on the madrassa in Sialkot.
According to sources in Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Punjab, police commandos and security officials carried out the operation on reports of presence of suspected militants at the madrassa.
A number of national identity cards and controversial books and literature were also taken into custody by the security officials. The seminary has been sealed for further investigation, sources told Pakistan Today.
The development comes a day after Pakistan announced it had arrested several members of the Jaish-e-Muhammad militant group, which is suspected of being behind a terrorist attack earlier this month on an Indian air base.
TALKS IN ‘VERY NEAR FUTURE:
Meanwhile addressing a press conference in New Delhi earlier in the day, Indian External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said that India and Pakistan had agreed to reschedule the foreign-secretary level talks for a date in the “very near future”.
“India has welcomed Pakistan’s response of sending a special investigation team to India to probe the attack on the Indian airbase in Pathankot,” he said.
“We note the apprehension of Jaish-e-Muhammad members. Action taken against Jaish is an important and positive first step,” he added.
He said: “We look forward to the visit of Pakistan’s special investigation team and our investigative agencies will support them.”
“We hope that Pakistan will continue its investigation and bring all perpetrators to justice,” he said.
To a question, he insisted that foreign secretary-level talks were a separate track, while the probe team on Pathankot was a separate track and asked that the two not be linked.
When asked if the national security advisers of the two countries have spoken over the phone, he replied that the NSAs have been in regular touch.
Meanwhile, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said in Islamabad that Pakistan was in contact with India to determine the date for foreign secretaries’ talks.
During the weekly media briefing, he said that the date for foreign secretary level talks was not decided before. He said he had no knowledge of any possible meeting between the NSAs of both countries.
The spokesperson said that Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Indonesia and was against terrorism in the entire region.
As regards the Saudi-Iran tensions, Qazi Khalilullah said that Iran was Pakistan’s close neighbouring country and the government wanted resolution of issues between the two countries in a peaceful manner.
Talking about the attack on Pakistan’s consulate in Afghanistan, he said that more information had been sought from the Afghan government.
He also rejected allegations from the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan that 80 per cent of the terrorists, who had joined the Islamic State militant group in Afghanistan, were from Pakistan.
India does not want successful talks.
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