Pakistan’s probe team will get access to Pathankot airbase

NEW DELHI(PTI): As part of the atmospherics being built up for the meeting between the two PMs, India is also extending a special gesture for the National Day celebration at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on March 23, with the government deciding to send a “senior Minister” to the event.

Security forces stand guard outside the Pathankot airbase. File photo

The National Day celebration is usually not attended by senior Ministers as it is used by the Pakistani authorities to showcase warm ties between Pakistan and the Kashmiri separatists. Last year, General V.K. Singh, the former Army Chief who is a Minister of State, was deputed by the government, but he left a trail of controversy later with a series of tweets that conveyed his disgust about attending the event.

This year, however, the government will take the political risk of sending a senior Minister for the event.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Pakistan counterpart Sartaj Aziz during the SAARC ministerial in Kathmandu on March 17 when India and Pakistan decided to take the investigation into the Pathankot terror attack forward.

Meanwhile, government sources said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) would be coordinating the visit of the Pakistan team. They said the JIT was expected to visit the Pathankot airbase on March 29 and would be flown there in a helicopter belonging to the Border Security Force (BSF).

Officials said the government has decided to be transparent about the Pakistan’s team visit here and have asked the NIA to share as many details as possible with the media.