A team of five Pakistani police and intelligence officials arrived here on Sunday to probe the January 2 terror attack at the Pathankot air base in Punjab, sources here said.
The team will travel to Pathankot on Tuesday and will question witnesses, according to the sources. They said that the Pakistani team will be given a limited access to the Indian airbase where at least seven military personnel were killed after a gun and bomb attack by alleged Pakistani terrorists.
One civilian was also killed in the attack on the sprawling 2,000-acre complex that houses high-value Indian defence assets, including fighter jets. Six terrorists who had crossed over into Punjab from Pakistan were also killed.
This is for the first time New Delhi has allowed Pakistani investigators to probe a terror attack in India blamed on that country. The access was granted as India hoped that Pakistan will bring to justice the alleged perpetrators, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.
Indian investigators believe that Azhar, who was released after the Indian Airlines’ IC 814 hijacking in 1999 in Afghanistan’s Kandhahar, masterminded the Pathankot attack.
India had granted visas to five members of a Pakistani team probing the cross-border terror attack on the Pathankot airbase in January this year.
The Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has sought seven-day visas after it reaches India on March 27, it was reliably learnt on Friday.
Following a meeting with Sartaj Aziz, advisor to the Pakistan prime minister on foreign affairs, on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) ministerial meeting at Pokhara in Nepal last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced that the Pakistani JIT would arrive in India on March 27 and start its work from the following day.
Seven Indian security personnel lost their lives when terrorists from across the border attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, Punjab, early on January 2.
The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack in which all the six terrorists also were reportedly killed.
The attack derailed the proposed Foreign Secretary-level talks that were scheduled for the middle of January after the two countries agreed in December last year to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.
India has since sent “actionable evidence” to the Pakistani authorities to bring the perpetrators of the attack to book.
Pakistan filed an FIR in Gujranwala last month against “unknown” terrorists in connection with the attack.
It also said that it would send a JIT to India to probe the attack.
(With agencies input)