New Delhi hints at rethink of foreign secretaries’ talks

India said on Monday it would take a decision on the next round of talks with Pakistan after the operations at the Pathankot airbase are over, amid reports that Delhi had handed some “actionable information” to Islamabad about the ongoing crisis. 

Sources said there was a possibility of another round of NSA-level talks before the scheduled foreign secretaries meeting.

Arun Jaitley
New Delhi hints at rethink of foreign secretaries’ talks

Press Trust of India said the government was weighing all options on the talks process with Pakistan and a “final call” was likely this week. “I think let the operations get over and it is only then government takes a view on such matters,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday. He was speaking to reporters after a meeting of the National Security Council, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, discussed the terror attack.  

Mr Jaitley was asked about the impact of the Pathankot attack on the proposed Indo-Pak talks. Asked about the identity of the terrorists, he said: “I think we are at a stage where operations are still on (and) therefore it is not proper for me to say anything more than that.” Mr Jaitley said combing operations took time as the base is a large complex with a 24km long circumference. Reports were confusing and varied. There were claims that five militants were killed while hunt was on for the body of a sixth fighter. 

Security forces managed to confine the terrorists to a limited area and have been successful in containing any damage to the strategic assets at the air base, he said, adding the combing operations is taking long because there could be explosives. Stating that security forces took prompt action, Mr Jaitley said the gunmen had come with the main objective of damaging strategic assets at Pathankot air base. “These were well trained terrorists and part of suicide squad. When such kind of Fidayeen attack takes place it has potential to cause huge damage. The complex is very big.

The circumference of airbase is 24 kms therefore combing operations is also taking time,” he said. Baqir Sajjad Syed adds from Islamabad: The government on Monday acknowledged that New Delhi had provided leads pointing towards possible involvement of a Pakistan-based militant group in the attack on India’s Pathankot airbase and that those were being probed.