Attack dents Lahore bonhomie

Strike comes a week after PM Modi's surprise visit to Pakistan

Attack dents Lahore bonhomie

Even as the terror attack at Pathankot in Punjab cast a shadow on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to mend India-Pakistan ties, New Delhi is not yet in a mood to call off once again the bilateral dialogue the two nations are set to restart this month.

Though the terrorists, who attacked the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot early on Saturday, are suspected to have owed allegiance to Jaish-e-Mohammed and crossed over to India from Pakistan, New Delhi is understood to be not in favour of a knee-jerk reaction and has not yet considered the option of calling off Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s visit to Islamabad on January 15.

The attacks came just about a week after Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore to greet Pakistan Prime Minister M Nawaz Sharif on his birthday as well as to join celebrations at the residence of the latter for the wedding of his granddaughter.

Officials told Deccan Herald that the government will take a call on India’s engagements with Pakistan only after ascertaining if the Inter Services Intelligence or any other “state agency” of the neighbouring country had any role in orchestrating the attack on the IAF base in Pathankot.

Jaishankar will meet Pakistani Foreign Secretary A A Chaudhry in Islamabad on January 15 to discuss modalities and schedule of the series of meetings senior officials of India and Pakistan will hold as components of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue between the two nations over the next few months. India refrained from officially blaming Pakistan for the terror attacks in Pathankot. “Operations continuing, immediate focus on resolving situation — premature to say anything more at this point,” Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted early on Saturday. 

Islamabad too did its bit to keep the peace-process with New Delhi on course.

 “Building on the goodwill created during the recent high level contacts between the two countries, Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region,” the ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan stated in Islamabad, condemning the attack in Pathankot.  The meeting between two foreign secretaries will mark the resumption of the bilateral dialogue, which remained stalled for two years since New Delhi suspended it in the wake of killing of two Indian Army soldiers by Pakistani armed forces personnel along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2013.

“The possibility of saboteurs trying to derail the peace-process was factored in when the government decided to resume the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue,” a senior official said in New Delhi. Modi-Sharif meeting at Ufa in Russia on July 10 was also followed by similar terrorist attacks in Gurdaspur in Punjab and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as a series of ceasefire violation by the Pakistan Army and Rangers along the LoC and the undisputed stretch of the boundary.
 

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