Pathankot terror attack: Nawaz Sharif orders formation of joint investigation team; Pakistan arrests 'some suspects'
Pakistani authorities carried out raids at different places following attack on the Pathankot airbase in India.
Lahore/Islamabad: Law enforcement agencies have picked up "some suspects" connected to Pathankot airbase attack from Bahwalapur district, the hometown of Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Pakistani news channel ARY News reported today that "some arrests" have been made in this regard but police did not confirm any arrest related to the Pathankot attack.
"The intelligence agencies have picked up some suspects from Bahawalpur on the leads provided by India in Pathankot airbase attack and shifted them to undisclosed location for interrogation," the news channel reported.
Regional Police Officer (RPO Bahawalpur) Ahsan Saddique said that he was not aware of any arrest in connection with the Pathankot attack. "I am not aware about any arrests related to the Pathankot incident," he added.
In Islamabad, intelligence officials claimed raids were carried out in Gujranwala, Jhelum and Bahawalpur districts and an unspecified number of people were arrested.
"Probe has been going to ascertain if they were involved in the attack or some of them facilitated it," they said. Nudged by the US to expeditiously act against the perpetrators of the Pathankot terror attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered formation of a high-profile joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the links of the attackers with Pakistan, The Express Tribune reported.
Sharif's decision to form the JIT came after the leads provided by India which has linked the Foreign Secretary-level talks, scheduled for January 15, to Islamabad's decisive action on the terror attack on its air base.
The decision to form the JIT, comprising officials from Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Sharif recently, the paper said.
India has identified Masood Azhar as mastermind of the attack.
It also blamed his brother Rauf and five others for carrying out the attack that left all six terrorists and seven Indian soldiers dead on January 2.
It has provided telephone number in Pakistan contacted by the airbase attackers and given other inputs. India has called on Islamabad to act on the information if the FS-level talks are to take place as scheduled on 15 January.
Azhar's seminary Usman-au-Ali - in Bahwalpur, some 400 kilometers from Lahore, is fully functional and of late the number of students has reportedly increased from 400 to 700 with the extension in the building.
"No raid has been conducted in the seminary related to the Pathankot incident," the police officer said.
JeM was banned in 2002. However, it continued to operate under an alternative name 'Jamaat-ul-Furqaan'.
The News said that Pakistan has completed initial investigation on the terror attack and handed over its report to Indian authorities. There was no official word on this from the Indian side.
The paper, quoting Pakistani authorities, claimed that the telephone numbers provided by India were not registered in Pakistan. Adviser to the Pakistan PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said the FS-level talks are "intact" as "Pakistan is investigating the Pathankot incident".
The attack on the air force base came just a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif.