In clear signs of new stress points with Pakistan, India has said that “There is no mutually convenient date for Foreign Secretary-level talks so far.”
The comment of Vikas Swarup, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, came as Pakistan said that it will ask India for more evidence in the investigation of the deadly attack earlier this month on the Pathankot Air Force base. Six Pakistan terrorists crossed the border and opened fire at the base; seven military personnel were killed.
India had supplied proof of the terrorists’ origins to Pakistan, but sources in Islamabad said so far, what has been furnished is “insufficient”. Pakistani officials had already indicated that phone numbers furnished by India that were called by the terrorists before they were killed in Pathankot are not registered in Pakistan. A decision on what evidence Pakistan will seek from India will be taken next week, said the Islamabad sources.The tense bilateral relations have also been exacerbated by a balloon from Pakistan that was shot down on Republic Day by a fighter jet. Mr Swarup said India will raise the matter of the balloon with Islamabad. A Sukhoi Su-30 fired nearly 100 rounds at the balloon after it was detected on air force radars. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said yesterday that the balloon came from “across the border” as the air force clarified that it was not equipped with surveillance or other devices but may have been “a way of Pakistan checking India’s response time.”
Talks between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries, loosely set for earlier this month, were delayed after the Pathankot attack. The dialogue was intended to stimulate bilateral relations, which had plummeted over the last year, but were revived with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore in December on Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif’s birthday.
Mr Sharif has appointed a team of top military and intelligence officers to handle the Pathankot investigation.
Yesterday, a Pakistani court refused to allow the government to collect samples of the main suspects in the Mumbai attacks of 2008 which were masterminded by Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi who is in prison. The glacial pace of his trial has been submitted repeatedly by India as unacceptable.