Pakistan probe team has no access to Pathankot airbase, only where attack took place

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New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said India has denied permission to Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to visit the Pathankot airbase as part of their probe into the January attack by the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

“We have specially denied them (Pakistan’s JIT) permission to go anywhere in the airbase. NIA is investigating the case. They (JIT) are only allowed access to the area where the crime took place,” Parrikar said.

India and Pakistan on Monday began formal discussions on investigations into the terror attack at the Indian Air Force base, making it the first-ever visit of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from the neighbouring country that included an ISI official.

The five-member Pakistani JIT is headed by Chief of Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Muhammad Tahir Rai and comprises Lahore’s Deputy Director General, Intelligence Bureau, Mohammad Azim Arshad, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Lt Col Tanvir Ahmed, Military Intelligence official Lt Col Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD Investigating Officer, Shahid Tanveer.

The team was received at the headquarters of the National Investigation Agency by Inspector General Sanjiv Kumar Singh.

They were given a detailed presentation on the probe done by Indian agencies so far and evidence that shows the attack was planned in Pakistan, official sources said.

The team, which arrived on Sunday, will on Tuesday visit Pathankot for probe into the attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) on January 2, which left seven security personnel dead.

In the post-lunch session, the Pakistani team would be raising questions to clear their doubts, if any, before they fly to Pathankot in a special plane on Tuesday morning, sources said.

The IAF base will be visually barricaded by NIA to prevent any view of critical areas.

The NIA team would show some of the areas where the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were engaged in an 80-hour-long gun battle with security personnel.

India plans to provide the Pakistani team access to all witnesses in the case, but not to the security personnel from National Security Guard or BSF.

The witnesses include Punjab Police Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma, cook Madan Gopal and 17 injured persons.

The sources said that cooperation to the Pakistani team would be based on the principle of reciprocity hoping that an Indian team would be allowed to travel to Pakistan at a later date.

In the 26/11 Mumbai attack case, Pakistan had sent a judicial commission to cross-examine some of the witnesses in the case.

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