Counter-terror sweep continues

Centre weighing its options on Foreign Secretary talks with Pak.

Updated - November 17, 2021 05:02 am IST

Published - January 05, 2016 01:25 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Counter-terror operations at the Pathankot airbase stretched into the third evening on Monday, even as senior officials said the government was weighing its options on whether to go ahead with the Foreign Secretary-level talks scheduled for next week.

>By dusk on Monday , senior military officials in Pathankot announced that they had killed a total of five terrorists, while sources in Delhi said the sixth one may have been blown to pieces in a controlled explosion carried out by the security forces around noon in the airbase.

Evokes 26/11 By then, it had been more than 60 hours since the terrorists and security forces began exchanging fire around 3.30 a.m. on Saturday. The long-drawn-out terrorist attack >revived memories of the Mumbai attacks of 2008, when 10 terrorists held the city to ransom for three days. However, given the fact that there was specific intelligence and the attack was in a very limited area, questions continued to linger over the way the entire Pathankot operation was coordinated and conducted.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened the National Security Council to take stock of the situation and discuss options for the engagement with Pakistan in the wake of the attack.

“Let the operation get over, then the government will take a view,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told ANI when asked if Indo-Pak. talks would now be affected. According to a senior official, “Various options are being mulled over.”

Among those being considered are postponing the Foreign Secretary talks, scheduled for January 15 in Islamabad, until investigations into the attack are completed, or to hold them only after the NSAs of both sides, tasked to discuss terrorism-related issues, meet up and discuss the terror strike.

Specific alert on attack was received

Even as the counter-terror operations continued at the Pathankot airbase in Punjab on Monday, senior military officers on the spot insisted that all families and air assets in the base were secure and there was no collateral damage on the third day.

Meanwhile, sources said a specific terror alert was received by the Indian agencies a few days before Christmas about six terrorists from Bahwalpur in Punjab province of Pakistan, where Jaish-e-Mohammad is headquartered, planning to execute terror strikes in India.

According to them, the input may have come from a foreign agency. The alert had said that they would be entering India through Samba sector in Jammu and were targeting the Pathankot airbase. And from there on the group was to move towards Delhi.

January 1 (Friday)

Early morning (around 3 am): SP Salwinder Singh and his cook Madan Gopal alert local police about terrorists who abducted them

Their claims were not given credence for hours; crucial time was lost.

Afternoon: Centre issues alert about terrorists; by now more or less certain their location was Pathankot.

NSA convenes meeting with senior officials; NSG dispatched to Pathankot

Why no detailed combing of the region done , despite several military, BSF and Punjab police units available close by?

January 2 (Saturday)

Early morning (3.30 am): Terrorists spotted; Centre claims they were contained in forested area

Evening: Four terrorists killed; Home Minister claims operations over

Who briefed Home Minister , and why was haste shown in declaring operation a success?

January 3 (Sunday)

Morning (10 am): NSG's Lt Col Niranjan killed, five others injured while inspecting a terrorist's body

12.20 pm: Firing starts from two different locations, security forces realise more terrorists are alive

Why was no protocol in place to avoid such casualties?

Why was there no careful combing and clearing of the area?

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