ISLAMABAD - The Pak-India relations are once again on the razor edge as New Delhi has refused to accept Islamabad’s clean chit to Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar in the Pathankot attack case. In a second report shared with India , Pakistan told it the JeM chief was not found involved in the terror attack. In the first report, Pakistan had informed India the Pakistani cell phone numbers given as evidence had no record in Pakistan.

Earlier, Pakistan had turned down an Indian proposal to jointly interrogate Maulana Masood Azhar and other suspects arrested in the Pathankot terror attack case. After the January 2 attack, Pakistan authorities detained Maulana Masood Azhar in ‘protective custody’. Several other suspects were arrested and authorities shut down a number of JeM-run madrassas (seminaries) in different cities.The JeM chief - who was released from an Indian prison in 1999 in exchange for release of 155 passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane - was quizzed by the investigators and found not guilty. His brother Mufti Abdul Rehman Rauf was also detained.

Last month, a heavily armed group attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force. Five attackers and seven security forces personnel were killed in the battle. India believed the attackers, who were wearing Indian army fatigues, belonged to JeM.
The first casualty of the incident was foreign secretary-level talks between the two countries. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are struggling to keep their renewed dialogue on track after the militant attack. Modi made a surprise stopover in Pakistan in December – becoming the first to visit the nuclear-armed neighbour in around 12 years.

Prime Minister Sharif had called premier Modi after the Pathankot incident assuring him of “prompt and decisive” action against groups and individuals who might be linked to the attack. Modi strongly emphasised the need for Pakistan to take firm and immediate action against organisations and individuals responsible for and linked to the Pathankot attack.

Pakistan is mulling to send a special investigating team to Pathankot in consultation with the government of India for further investigations.
A senior government official told The Nation, India was perturbed over the Pakistan’s assertion that the JeM chief had nothing to do with the Pathankot attack. “They were very furious. They believe Maulana Masood Azhar and his supporters carried out the strike,” the official said.
He said Pakistan has promised to further investigate the case but the case was seemingly over to the extent of the JeM chief .

“New Delhi told our people, the findings were unacceptable. Naturally this could affect ties . We are pressing for dialogue,” he added. Reports said Prime Minister Sharif – after consulting the civil and military leaders – had asked National Security Adviser Lt. General Nasser Khan Janjua (retd) to share the findings on JeM chief with India . Janjua spoke to counterpart Ajit Doval to update him on the Special Investigation Team probe and to work out dates for a meeting between the foreign secretaries. Sources said the Indian side termed Pakistan’s claims as ‘doublespeak’ as evidence against the JeM leader was ‘enough to act against him.’

“India seems to have made its mind the JeM is behind the attack. They are not ready to approve our investigations as independent,” said a source privy to the developments. Another official said Pakistan had sought more evidence from India to substantiate its claims against Maulana Masood Azhar and other ‘Pakistani elements’ who allegedly pulled the strings. “India insists it has given enough evidence to act. Apparently, they want the results of their choice. The visit of our investigators was also discussed. It may happen soon,” he added.

Prime Minister Sharif recently said Pakistan was about to complete its investigation into the Pathankot terror attack and will soon make it public. He said the attack had a negative impact and disturbed the talks with India which were ‘going in the right direction’ after the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Analysts said Pakistan-India ties could be at stake if the two countries fail to agree on the investigations into the Pathankot attack.

Defence analyst Major General Jamshed Ayaz (retd) said several attacks like Pathankot have already occurred in Pakistan. “Pakistan has evidences of Indian involvement in Balochistan and Karachi but we want peace in the region by holding dialogue,” he added.  He said India should be sensible as people of both countries want to see friendly relations between the nuclear armed neighbours. Analyst Dr Mohammed Khan said Pakistan and India need to find out who was behind the attack on Pathankot airbase. He said the India must not attach conditions to talks as this could affect the efforts for regional peace.