India urges Pakistan to make progress on air base attack probe during talks between foreign secretaries

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar (left) shakes hands with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry (right) prior to a meeting in New Delhi, on April 26, 2016.
Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar (left) shakes hands with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry (right) prior to a meeting in New Delhi, on April 26, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

NEW DELHI (AFP) - New Delhi urged Islamabad on Tuesday (April 26) to make "visible progress" on a probe into a deadly attack on an Indian air force base, during a stalled meeting between their top diplomats.

India and Pakistan postponed talks between their foreign secretaries in January after the assault - which Delhi blamed on a banned Pakistan-based group - left seven soldiers dead.

The Pathankot air base attack came just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian leader to visit Pakistan in 11 years, raising hopes of a softening in relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and his counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry met in New Delhi on Tuesday on the sidelines of a regional conference.

"India's FS (foreign secretary) emphasised the need for early and visible progress on the Pathankot terrorist attack investigation as well as the Mumbai case trial in Pakistan," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said.

"FS clearly conveyed that Pakistan cannot be in denial on the impact of terrorism on bilateral relationship. Terrorist groups based in Pakistan must not be allowed to operate with impunity," he said in a statement.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai that killed 166 people and which New Delhi blames on militants based on Pakistan soil.

Pakistan said it raised "all outstanding issues" during the meeting including a dispute between the two countries over Kashmir.

The Pakistan High Commission also said in a tweet that its foreign secretary underscored Islamabad's commitment to "friendly relations" with all of its neighbours including India.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir and diplomatic relations over the region remain tense.

Pakistan investigators last month visited the scene of the Pathankot attack close to the border in northern Punjab state, as part of its own probe.

India has blamed militants from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack, which led to two days of gun battles.

India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has told parliament that the attack could not have been carried out "without the (Pakistan) state's support".