New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Thursday deferred their foreign secretary-level talks to "very near future" even as government here welcomed the apprehending of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) members linked to the Pathankot terror attack and agreed to the visit of a Pakistani SIT.
Detention of several members of JeM, said to be behind the Pathankot attack, is seen by India as an "important and positive first step" although apprehending of its chief Masood Azhar has not been confirmed by Pakistan.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar was scheduled to travel to Islamabad to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary tomorrow but both the countries announced deferment of the talks with "mutual consent" to "very near future".
Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Sawrup told journalists that the statement issued by the Pakistan government yesterday on the investigations into the Pathankot attack conveyed that "considerable progress" has been made in the probe against terrorist elements linked to the strike.
"The action taken against JeM is an important and positive first step. We also note that the government of Pakistan considering to send a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the Pathankot terror attack.”
"We look forward to the visit of the Pakistani SIT and our investigative agencies will extend all necessary cooperation to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice," Sawrup said.
Even as he welcomed the Pakistani action against JeM, Swarup said India will not go by "empty statements" and will see action on the ground.
Asked as to why the talks have been deferred when India was welcoming the Pakistani action against JeM, Swarup said the foreign secretaries felt that some more time was required before they meet "away from the shadow" of the investigations into the terror strike.
Reports of detention of Azhar were widely carried by the Pakistani media yesterday and picked up by the Indian press. By all accounts the reports appeared to be untrue but India has not linked the talks to his detention.
"We are looking for the credible and comprehensive action to bring all the perpetrators of Pathankot terror attack to justice," Swarup said.
The two foreign secretaries spoke to each other today before the announcement of the deferment of their talks was made first in Islamabad.
There has been widespread speculation that the NSAs of the two countries may meet before the FS-level talks but Swarup fobbed-off the question by merely stating that there was no such information. However, the NSAs were in regular touch, he added.
Swarup said the dialogue process, which was started with the NSAs meeting in Bangkok and continued with the External Affairs Minister's visit to Islamabad and had got lot of impetus as a result of Prime Minister's brief visit to Lahore, was in "danger" because of the terrorist attack in Pathankot.
"I think certain positive measures have now been taken to ensure that we continue that momentum and the fact that the two Foreign Secretaries have agreed to reschedule through mutual agreement their meeting is a very positive indication," he said.
The spokesman also added that the action by Pakistan on the terror strike was "in line" with their own commitment to get rid of terrorism.
On whether the Pakistan SIT will be given access to the Pathankot air base, Swarup said those modalities have to be worked out between the investigative agencies of the countries.
Asked about recent attacks in Afghanistan some of which were targeted against Indian missions in different cities and whether India has raised that with Pakistan after reports that the strikes were carried out by Pakistani elements, Swarup said investigation there was still on.
The government was awaiting a detailed report into the attacks before reaching any definitive conclusion, he added. He also asserted that India has not given up the issue of Mumbai terror attacks trial in Pakistan and it was discussed between the two NSAs in their meeting in Bangkok last December.
On whether the ball was still in Pakistan's court as far as he had previously mentioned, Swarup said, "This is not football (game). This is diplomatic consultation between two countries who are neighbours" and India wants cooperative relationship with Pakistan....