January 1 or 2: Six armed men dressed in Indian Army fatigues entered the Pathankot Air Force Station, a military airport on the Pathankot-Majra Road (the station is part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force). January 2: At 3:30am (Indian Standard Time), extensive exchange of firing was reported. At the time of firing, commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG), an Indian Special Forces unit under the Ministry of Home Affairs, and a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a central agency established to combat terror, were present at the station.
As soon as the intruders were detected with thermal imaging, attack helicopters were used to target them with rockets. The Indian media reported that “four terrorists, one Indian Air Force commando and one jawan have been killed”. The home minister announced that the operation was over.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Today, enemies of humanity… tried to strike at our strategic area, a prominent airbase at Pathankot”. The Hindu reported, “The terrorists suspected to belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit, made at least four calls to Bahawalpur…”
January 3: At around 10am, a lieutenant colonel of the NSG died in a grenade blast. At around 12:20pm, firing resumed. By 5pm, Indian Air Force officials said that the “operation is at a mature stage and almost coming to a close”.
January 4: Intermittent firing begins. NSG says that “operation is still on”.
January 5: Sharad Kumar, DG National Investigation Agency, told the media that the “attackers were from the neighbouring country, Pakistan” and that there were “voice samples” whereby the attackers were talking to their handlers in Pakistan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AntRF0KoFSM). Manohar Parrikar, the defence minister told media that “ammunition and other equipment recovered after the terrorists were killed was made in Pakistan.”
January 7: The Press Trust of India reported that the chief of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed had been identified “as one of the handlers of the terrorists who launched the deadly weekend attack on the Pathankot Air Force Station.” The government of India told the media that it had shared the intelligence on the Pathankot attack with the government of Pakistan and that India “expects urgent action from Pakistan”.
March 30: The Indian Express reported that “a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan, comprising intelligence and police officials, reached New Delhi to carry out its own investigation into the Pathankot attack.” The Pakistani team was received by officers of the National Investigation Agency.
June 2: Sharad Kumar, DG National Investigation Agency, told CNN News 18: “No evidence of Pakistan government or government agency’s hand in the Pathankot attack” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qiClNXWEGA). Sharad Kumar further said that there will be no further probe into the Samjhauta Express bombings and that the “Lashkar angle is being ruled out”.
Premature blaming, conclusions without investigation, professional military incompetence, failed intelligence and deception – all in one. That’s Pathankot.