India to take final call on Foreign Secretary level talks on Thursday

NEW DELHI(PTI): Even after Pakistan’s move to detain JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and forming a Joint Investigation team to act on leads given by its neighbour on the Pathankot attack, India remains undecided on going ahead with the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

On Wednesday night, PM Narendra Modi met Sushma Swaraj to discuss the developing situation but a final decision was deferred till the return of NSA Ajit Doval from Paris.

Earlier, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said, “The decision(on FS talks) will be taken after the meeting”, referring to the meeting between Swaraj and Modi. Hectic consultations followed the detention of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and “several individuals” of his terror outfit suspected to be behind the Pathankot attack on January 2. However, Swarup said there has been no official confirmation on the “arrest” of Azhar.

Pakistan on Wednesday arrested Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and “several individuals” belonging to his dreaded outfit, which is suspected to have engineered the Pathankot terror attack. It sealed JeM offices after India demanded action on the group, linking it to the fate of Foreign Secretary-level talks.

Azhar’s brother Abdul Rehman Rauf has also been arrested, Geo TV said. While the arrest of several individuals was announced in a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office, there was no official word on Azhar’s detention. Officials said that Azhar, the dreaded terrorist and two other terrorists who were released from an Indian prison in 1999 in exchange for release of 155 passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane, has been taken into protective custody after raids on several JeM offices.

Pakistan on Wednesday set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising security and military officials to probe whether any Pakistani individual or organisation was involved in the Pathankot terror attack in India.

The JIT was set up following an order of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to ensure a thorough and fair probe by Pakistan. According to an official of the Prime Minister’s Office, the JIT would be led by Additional IG Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Punjab, Rai Tahir.