The Indian government has granted visas to five members of a Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi this week to probe a terror attack on Indian Air Force base in Pathankot earlier this year.
New Delhi had blamed militants from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attack and shared ‘leads’ with Islamabad. Acting on the information shared by India, Islamabad had formed a JIT comprising officials from intelligence agencies as well as police to probe the attack.
The five-member JIT, which is expected to leave for India on Sunday, has also prepared a 50-point questionnaire for investigating the Pathankot incident, the Khaleej Times reported.
“The JIT’s modus operandi and modalities have been agreed between the Pakistani and Indian authorities,” said a senior member of the JIT adding the body wants to stay there for a week to complete the probe.
Pakistani officials have already conveyed to their Indian counterparts that the JIT requires a minimum 7-day stay across the border to carry forward the investigation. “Concerned authorities of both the countries had agreed on the mandate and working of the JIT and hoped that the issue of stay would be solved amicably,” claimed the JIT member.
The JIT member further claimed that it would enjoy the same power, mandate and authority in India as in Pakistan. “The JIT would work under its own CrPC in India and would visit the crime scene and collect evidences.”
Further, the JIT will meet witnesses to record their statements and will call on Indian investigation officers who already carried out the investigation for sharing information.
This will be the first time that Pakistani intelligence and police officials are traveling to India to investigate a terror attack. The team, which includes officers from CTD, IB, MI and ISI, will examine the arms used by the terrorists carrying out the assault on IAF base in Pathankot besides recording the statements of the victims.
The team had applied for visas to visit India on Tuesday. “We have today received visa applications of five members of Pakistan’s joint investigation team. The modalities of the visit will be discussed now as we have the composition of the team,” India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had told media.
The announcement of the Pakistani team’s visit was made by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who met Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in Nepal last week on the sidelines of a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting.
Aziz had primarily met Sushma to hand over an invitation on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for the SAARC summit being hosted by Pakistan later this year. But the top diplomats used the meeting to discuss bilateral issues including the fate of comprehensive bilateral dialogue that got interrupted due to the Pathankot attack.