Pakistan's Sharif Calls Modi to Calm Tensions After India Attack

  • Sharif pledges to investigate attack on air base in India
  • Modi, Sharif last month agreed to resume stalled peace talks

Nawaz Sharif.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a statement on Tuesday vowed to investigate an attack on an Indian air base, signaling that peace talks planned for later this month between the neighbors would still go ahead.

In a phone call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sharif said that Pakistan was following up on leads provided by India’s government after an assault that began on Saturday at Pathankot base in northern Punjab state, near the border with Pakistan. It left 13 people dead, including six gunmen.

“Both the PMs agreed that a cordial and cooperative relationship between two countries would be the most appropriate response to the nefarious designs of the terrorists," Sharif’s office said in the statement. He told Modi that “whenever a serious effort to bring peace between two countries was underway, terrorists try to derail the process."

Sharif assured Modi of “prompt and decisive action against the terrorists," the Indian government said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

The conversation between the leaders suggests they are determined to prevent attacks from derailing talks that have stalled over similar incidents since Modi came to power in 2014. In an effort to break the deadlock, Modi met Sharif in the Pakistani city of Lahore last month and agreed to accelerate peace talks, starting with a meeting between foreign secretaries this month.

‘Actionable’ Evidence

The nuclear powers have fought three wars since splitting up in 1947 as the British left the subcontinent. Vested interests on both sides have stood in the way of a peace deal since then, hindering economic gains in a region with a fifth of the world’s population.

The attackers had crossed over from Pakistan and the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed may be responsible, according to India’s Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi. Modi told Sharif that India has provided "specific and actionable" evidence to enable it to crack down on those responsible for the raid, the Indian statement said.

India has long accused Pakistan’s military of sponsoring terrorist groups that conduct cross-border attacks. The two countries have also jostled for influence in nearby Afghanistan, where militants attacked the Indian consulate in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Sunday.

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