“I urge both Pakistan and India not to allow non-state actors and other pressure groups to derail the peace process. Settling the Kashmir issue should not be a precondition for starting the dialogue process,” Hammond said while addressing a joint press conference with Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad.
The British foreign secretary advised Pakistan to speed up the investigation into January 2 terror assault on India’s Pathankot air base in northern Punjab state which India has blamed on Pakistan-based militant groups.
“I welcome Pakistan commitment to vigorously pursue Phatankot attack investigations and we hope that the country will make progress in the investigation,” he said.
Hammond also lauded Islamabad’s role in the fight against terrorism and said Britain will continue its support to Pakistan in war on terror. “I salute Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism. Pakistan is the victim of terrorism and we want to work with Pakistan to take on the threats it faces. British and Pakistan will remain partner against terrorism,” Hammond added.
Sartaj Aziz assured the British foreign secretary that a joint investigation team is in process to complete its probe into the Phatankot attack. “The team will visit India in the next few days and hopefully then a meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two countries will take place. The Indian High Commissioner himself stated that foreign secretaries’ meeting is not linked to the Phatankot investigation,” the premier’s senior aide said.
New Delhi had previously accused Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) of masterminding the attack which left seven Indian security officials and one civilian dead and avoided pointing fingers at Pakistan or its institutions. However, India’s defence minister had told the country’s parliament that the deadly assault could not have been carried out without ‘state support’.
Responding to a question on the Afghan reconciliation process, Sartaj Aziz said Islamabad is hopeful that the Afghan peace process will start in coming days. “Under the concept of shared responsibility Pakistan, China and the US have to persuade the Taliban to the negotiations,” he added.
Aziz also confirmed that the government shared intelligence with New Delhi about possible terror attacks in India. “Sharing of intelligence among various nations of the world is a routine practice and this happens around the world. However, this time it was somehow leaked to media. But this showed Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism,” Aziz said. (http://tribune.com.pk/)