New Delhi: Dialling Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Sri Lanka, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday promised "prompt and decisive action" against terrorist groups linked to the attack on the air base at Pathankot in Punjab.
Sharif gave the assurance after New Delhi provided "specific and actionable information" to Islamabad regarding the terrorists who mounted the attack, and Modi underlined the need for Pakistan to take "firm and immediate action" against organisations and individuals responsible for it.
The Sharif-Modi telephonic conversation followed the killing of all six terrorists believed to be from Pakistan after they sneaked into and attacked the Indian Air Force base early on Saturday, leaving seven security personnel dead.
The United Jehad Council (UJC), an umbrella grouping of Kashmiri militant groups based in Pakistan headed by Syed Salahuddin, on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack. An official statement said Modi got a call Tuesday afternoon from Sharif "regarding the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air base".
"Modi strongly emphasised the need for Pakistan to take firm and immediate action against the organisations and individuals responsible for and linked to the Pathankot terrorist attack," the statement said. It said specific and actionable information in this regard has been provided to Pakistan.
"Sharif assured Modi that his government would take prompt and decisive action against the terrorists," it added. This was their first known conversation since Modi dramatically flew into Lahore on Christmas Day while returning home from Kabul and spent some two hours with Sharif.
Radio Pakistan reported that Sharif telephoned Modi "and conveyed sorrow and grief on the losses in (the) Pathankot terror attack". It quoted Sharif as saying that terrorists always tried to derail the process of peace between the two countries.
"Pakistan will investigate in detail on the leads and information provided by the government of India," it said. The two prime ministers also showed a resolve to battle terrorism together through mutual cooperation, Radio Pakistan added.
The Nation, a Pakistani newspaper, quoted Sharif as saying: "We are with India in this hard time and will assist in any way possible... We will investigate according to information given by India." Sharif and Modi also discussed other strategic issues, it added.
Modi's Lahore visit came after a series of diplomatic engagements between New Delhi and Islamabad. The two leaders had a seemingly impromptu meeting on November 30 on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit.
On December 6, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Khan Janjua met in Bangkok. Two days later, Sushma Swaraj landed in Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan.
On December 9, Sushma Swaraj announced that Modi would visit Islamabad in 2016 to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit. India and Pakistan have since agreed to start a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.
It was when the stage was being set for the foreign secretaries to meet this month in Islamabad that the terrorists mounted the attack on the IAF base at Pathankot.