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New Delhi: India may be insistent that Pakistan act against those responsible for the Pathankot terror attack before the two countries resume their official-level dialogue but New Delhi has not said a word officially on the recent attacks against two of its consulates in Afghanistan.

In the past, the finger of suspicion would have been pointed at Pakistan. This time, New Delhi has been circumspect.

Mint has learnt that the position New Delhi is taking is that investigations into a 3 January raid on the Indian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif and a 2 March attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad are yet to be completed and therefore pointing a finger in one direction or another would be premature.

This is despite Sayed Kamal Sadat, police chief of the Balkh province, where Mazar-i-Sharif is located, being quoted extensively by news reports as saying that those involved in the attack on the Indian consulate were “from Pakistani military and used special tactics while conducting their operation".

Afghan officials have not yet commented on who may be responsible for the Jalalabad attack.

“I am surprised at the Indian government’s silence on these attacks," said former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh, noting that in the past, the government had blamed either Pakistan or Pakistan-supported militant groups such as the Taliban and the Haqqani network.

Previous attacks, such as the one in Herat in May 2014, were blamed on the Lashkar-e-Toiba. A July 2008 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul—in which two Indian diplomats, two Indian paramilitary personnel and their Afghan driver were killed—was blamed on the Haqqani network.

An India-Pakistan tussle in Afghanistan has been attributed to both countries vying for influence. India saw its influence decline rapidly when Pakistan-backed Taliban forces took control of Kabul in 1996. Since the ouster of the Taliban in November 2001 following a US-led invasion, India has been working hard to shore up goodwill among Afghans with a slew of low-profile development projects—part of a $2 billion aid and assistance package.

Pakistan wants a friendly government in Kabul to fall back on in case of hostilities with India. India, on its part, wants a government that will not be inimical to its interests.

According to Mansingh, India not commenting on the attacks on the consulates seems to be part of “an unstated ban on anti-Pakistan statements. There is no attempt to blame Pakistan for now in a shrill manner", he said, also drawing attention to India’s low-key response following the attack on the air force station in Pathankot, Punjab.

Besides avoiding accusations, India also welcomed initial steps taken by Pakistan in conducting raids on Pakistan-based offices of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the militant group named by India as responsible for the Pathankot attack, as well as placing a number of its operatives in detention.

Home minister Rajnath Singh on 13 January said there was no reason to distrust an assurance from Pakistan that it will take action on the evidence provided by India in the immediate aftermath of the Pathankot attack.

There has been no comment from external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Pakistan, nor from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

That Pakistan’s “response template" to the Pathankot attack has been different from the past helped keep a lid on rhetoric which would otherwise have raised tensions in the subcontinent. Pakistan not denying that the Pathankot attackers could be from its soil and its action on Jaish cadres are being seen in India as evidence of this.

Besides, “back-channel communications are on and that’s why I think there are fewer public statements", said Mansingh. “This seems to be part of the government’s strategy to allow the channels of communication opened to work," he said, adding that importance was being given to back-channel talks after the appointment of former Pakistani general Nasser Khan Janjua in October as the national security adviser.

The thinking in India seems to be that comments on other attacks takes away the focus from Pathankot, which is where India would like to see results.

“Action on Pathankot means the two sides can start a dialogue which can be used to discuss terrorism and other disputes," said a person close to the development who did not want to be named.

According to a second person familiar with India-Pakistan relations, “When India and Pakistan don’t talk to each other, the rest of the world stops looking at what Pakistan does. It actually starts looking at the fact that you are not talking to each other. You are actually giving Pakistan the cover of getting away with that action."

“Not talking to each other doesn’t seem to be a sensible and effective way, certainly not the way of keeping the spotlight on Pakistan. World pressure should not be equally on India and Pakistan to talk to each other. It should be on Pakistan (to curb terrorism)," the person said, also declining to be named.

According to analysts and officials, it was unclear as yet whether this strategy will pay off.

“If it does not, we will be back to square one," said a government official, referring to a history of uneasy ties between the two countries.

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