Pak Pathankot JIT to arrive in India on March 27: Swaraj

Pokhara (Nepal), Mar 17, 2016, (PTI) A Pakistani Joint Investigation Team will arrive in India on March 27 to carry forward its probe into the Pathankot terror attack, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced here today after discussions with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz.

Pathankot terror attack figured very high in the over 20-minute meeting between Swaraj and Aziz, the first political-level engagement between the two sides after the January 2 Pathankot terror strike. India has been pressing Pakistan for action over the brazen assault on the key Indian Air Force base.

Swaraj also accepted Pakistan’s invitation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Islamabad for the SAARC Summit to be held on November 9-10 this year.

“We talked on Pathankot also and I am happy to say that the dates of the visit of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) have been fixed. They will reach India on (March) 27th night and will begin their work on 28th,” Swaraj said in her joint address to the media with Aziz after the two leaders held discussions on the sidelines of the SAARC ministerial meeting in this resort town of Nepal.

She also said it was not possible to not discuss Pathankot during her meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Aziz.

Asked if the JIT would visit the Pathankot air base, government sources said the modalities of the visit will be worked out in the coming days.

Sources said during the meeting between Swaraj and Aziz, Pakistan asked whether March 27 works out for India.

“Calls were made to both capitals and the dates were fixed,” a source said.

On his part, Aziz complimented the way the Pathankot issue was handled and the cooperation extended on both sides.

He hoped that this cooperation will pave the way for “good results”.

Aziz also hoped that Modi and Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif will meet in the US on March 31, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

“Not sure whether there will be structured dialogue but hopeful that they will meet,” Aziz said.

Complementing the conducive environment in which the SAARC meeting was held, Swaraj said, “Some issues which were unresolved between our two countries (India and Pakistan), we have taken a decision on them in a very positive manner.”

However, it was not clear what issues she was referring to.

During his meeting with Swaraj, Aziz recalled the November 30 meeting between Modi and Sharif and said that this was followed up by a meeting between the National Security Advisors of the two countries in Bangkok after six days.

“Three days later, Sushmaji arrived in Islamabad and it was decided that comprehensive bilateral dialogue will restart. Prime Minister Modi had also arrived in Lahore after that to wish Prime Minister Sharif. But the Pathankot attack became a hurdle,” he said, complimenting the cooperation on both sides after that.

Swaraj said the main reason for Aziz’s meeting with her was to extend the invitation for Prime Minister Modi to visit Islamabad for the SAARC Summit.

Aziz said that the SAARC meeting had happened in a very cooperative atmosphere and decisions have been taken on all pending issues.

“It is hopeful that from now till then (SAARC Summit in November), some issues in which work has to be done, will be done,” he said.

Earlier this year, a scheduled meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India was postponed after the Pathankot attack for which India blames Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Muhammed.

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