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'Hard evidence on Pathankot forced Pakistan's turnaround'
Friday April 8, 2016 10:34 PM, IANS

New Delhi: A day after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit indicated that Indian investigators would not be allowed to visit that country, government sources on Friday said Islamabad was making a "sudden turn around" on the Pathankot probe as the visiting Pakistani JIT was "taken aback" by the body of evidence provided by the NIA.

Sources maintained that the "hard evidence" tabled by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to the visiting Joint Investigating Team (JIT) during their five-day stay in India has left then "surprised".

The evidence was proof of the "Pakistani links of the terrorists" -- those who attacked the Pathankot airbase on January 2, the sources said, adding: "They realise that their game is up. The sudden turn around on allowing an NIA team to visit Pakistan could be the result of that."

Indian intelligence agencies told IANS that Pakistan has suffered a diplomatic setback during last few weeks as even their friendly countries like Saudi Arabia have lately started tilting towards New Delhi. India-Saudi Arabia strategic ties got a boost during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Riyadh last week.

On Friday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval took stock of the situation in what they called a "routine" meeting.

Seeking to dismiss the meeting as "routine", the sources said: "The meeting between Home Minister Rajnath Singh and NSA Doval is nothing unusual. Top brass in Indian security establishment keep meeting." The meeting, attended by senior officials from related security agencies, discussed Pakistan's turn around among other issues.

"The issue of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar also figured," the source said, referring to the current unrest at the institute.

Pakistan High Commissioner Basit on Thursday told journalists here that the ongoing peace talks between both countries would remain "suspended" and that "the investigation (into the Pathankot attack) is not about reciprocity".

Basit's remarks negate the NIA's claims made on March 30 that Islamabad will "reciprocate" India's gesture of allowing Pakistani investigators, including an ISI official, to visit the IAF base in Pathankot to probe the terror attack by Pakistani terrorists.

Sources said NIA officials had names of the terrorists, evidence like transcript of telephonic conversations and other electronic and forensic proofs including against Jaish-e -Mohammed chief Masood Azhar's brother Abdul Rauf.

On March 30, NIA spokesman Sanjeev Kumar had said that both sides had "agreed" that the kind of cooperation India had provided to the Pakistani Joint Investigation Team would be reciprocated.

"This is the reciprocity agreed," Kumar had told reporters.

The remarks indicated India's intention to get similar access in Pakistan to pursue the probe into the Pathankot terror attack.

India has been maintaining that the attack was masterminded by JeM chief Azhar, against whom an arrest warrant was issued by a NIA court in Mohali on Friday.

The terrorists who killed seven Indian security personnel at the base ended up getting killed after an 80-hour gun battle.

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