Pakistan has detained members of a terrorist group suspected of involvement in this month’s attack on an Indian air base, its strongest move yet to ensure that peace talks between the two neighbors go ahead.
Authorities apprehended several members of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, which has targeted India in the past, and started sealing its offices around the country, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office said on Wednesday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expected to decide yesterday whether to proceed with the talks, the Press Trust of India reported.
The nuclear-armed rivals were expected to resume peace talks as early as this week, breaking a deadlock that has persisted since Modi took office in May 2014. India demanded “prompt and decisive action” from Pakistan after the Jan. 2 assault at the Pathankot base in neighboring state of Punjab that killed 13 people, including six gunmen.
After meeting with Pakistan’s army chief on Wednesday, Sharif offered to send a special investigative team to work with India. He also formed a team comprising officials from the military and civilian intelligence departments to investigate the detained individuals.
Pakistani media reported that the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, Maulana Masood Azhar, was among those in custody. The Indian government has received no confirmation of that, Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a text message late on Wednesday.
“This attack was viewed as a deliberate spoiler,” Omar Hamid, a South Asia expert in terrorism risks at IHS, said by telephone from London. “It came at the wrong time for all sides — the Indian government, the Pakistan government and the Pakistan army. The response can be seen as a ‘shut-up’ call to these groups.”
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