Pathankot attack: NIA does u-turn on clean chit to Pak

The statement this week by National Investigation Agency director general Sharad Kumar that there is no evidence of direct complicity of the Pakistan establishment in the Pathankot airbase attack has predictably raised a controversy, with the NIA backing down on the statement and the Indian government disowning it, as New Delhi said today that involvement of Pakistan nationals ''is an accepted fact''.

On its part Islamabad touted Kumar's remarks to claim ''vindication'' of its position in this regard.

The whole row started over a written interview purportedly given by Kumar to a television channel in which he had said ''So far, no evidence to show that Pakistan government or Pakistani government agency was helping Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) or Masood Azhar or his aides carry out Pathankot attack.'' (See: Pak agencies not directly involved in Pathankot raid: NIA), Later, the NIA issued a statement saying the observation attributed to the DG NIA as regards Pathankot investigations ''are strongly refuted''. It said his statement has been misquoted.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj reacted to the controversy today by saying NIA has already issued a clarification and it put out the government's position that ''the involvement of Pakistan's nationals in the Pathankot Air Base attack is an accepted fact''.

''I would remind you that investigations are ongoing. The foreign secretary had conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart when they met in New Delhi in April that it was time for review of progress in investigation into the attack after the return of Pakistan's JIT (joint investigation team), which had gathered all evidence that it had wanted when it visited India,'' an external affairs spokesperson said in a statement.

He said enough information has also been provided to Pakistani authorities through two Letters Rogatory to conduct an investigation in Pakistan so that all those associated in Pakistan with planning, support and execution of the attack are brought to justice.

''At this stage, we await further response and information from Pakistan. It would be injudicious to speculate in this situation,'' he said.