INDIA, PAKISTAN AGREE TO KEEP TALKING KASHMIR
‘Purposeful Discussions Will Continue To Find Peaceful Solution’
New Delhi, July 5: India and Pakistan have agreed to continue discussions on Jammu and Kashmir to find a peaceful solution to the issue.
“The Foreign Secretaries had a comprehensive exchange of views on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and agreed to continue discussions in a purposeful and forward looking manner with the view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences,” said a joint statement released at a press conference here Thursday following two-day talks between visiting Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jaleel Abbas Jilani and his Indian counterpart Ranjan Mathai.
Significantly, both the sides also agreed to strengthen and expand the existing cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). The issue was part of the detailed discussions which the two countries had on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
The liberal visa regime still seems to be some distance away as the two sides set no time-frame for finalizing an agreement on this front. The statement mentioned that both sides felt the importance of people to people contacts. “The text of the revised bilateral visa agreement has already been finalized and it has been decided to work for its early signing,” it stated.
The Foreign Minister-level talks between India and Pakistan will be held in September next. The agenda and date for the meeting will be decided by the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries who will be meeting again in Islamabad before that.
Despite India having raised the issue of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in the backdrop of recent arrest and interrogation of Abu Jundal, who had played a key role in the attack, Pakistan denied involvement of the state actors. Rejecting the “insinuations of the involvement of any state agency”, Jilani said that his country is “even willing to offer a joint investigation” into Jundal’s statement.
Jundal was deported from Saudi Arabia to Delhi last month, and has said that during the attacks on Mumbai, he was stationed in a control room in Karachi along with other handlers.
On his part Mathai said that the arrest of Jundal has added a “new urgency” to the need for Pakistan to effectively and quickly provide information on the masterminds of 26/11.”I emphasized that bringing the guilty to justice in the Mumbai attacks would be the biggest confidence-building measure,” he said.
Responding to the Indian call, Jilani offered to look into the issue afresh in view of certain points raised by Jundal. “Whatever evidence India has, it should be shared with us and we will investigate the matter. We are even willing to offer joint investigation into the whole affair but finger-pointing won’t help.”
Reiterating the Indian stand on challenge posed by terrorism, Mathai said that it is the biggest threat to peace and bringing 26/11 perpetrators to justice will be the biggest of all the CBMs. “Earlier, in 2010 we have provided evidence on 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to Pakistan. Arrest and ongoing interrogation of Abu Jundal has added urgency to bringing perpetrators of 26/11 to justice. The issue of Jundal was taken up with Gilani and also shared information with him. We will continue to pursue this matter further to reach a logical conclusion,” he said.
India and Pakistan have also decided to hold separate meetings of Expert Level Groups on Nuclear and Conventional CBMs. “Increase in trade is a welcome development and we look forward to make further progress,” Mathai said when asked about whether trade ties will be affected between both countries after the arrest of Jundal.
Responding to questions on the improvement in trade ties between New Delhi and Islamabad, the Pakistan Foreign Secretary said, “We hope not. There should absolutely be no setback. Whenever, we are in such a situation we should intensify our cooperation. We have certainly made progress on various issues including terrorism. Home Ministries and agencies of both the countries should meet more often to tackle terrorism.”
TO REVIEW CROSS-LOC CBMS LATER THIS MONTH
The two countries agreed to meet later this month in Islamabad to review the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) across the LoC and to streamline them besides proposing new ones.
Both sides recognized the need to strengthen the existing cross-LoC CBMs for streamlining the arrangements to facilitate travel and trade across the Line of Control (LoC).
“They decided to convene a meeting of the Working Group on Cross-LoC CBMs on July 19, 2012 in Islamabad to recommend steps for strengthening and streamlining and effectively implementing the existing trade and travel arrangements and propose modalities for introducing additional cross LoC CBMs,” a joint statement issued here said.
Since the ceasefire along the LoC in November 2003, both countries have focused on people-centric approach encouraging movement of people, goods and ideas across the LoC.
Besides movement of people, trade has become an important element in Indo-Pak dialogues.
Referring to the issue of trade, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, said, “The forward movement on economic and commercial cooperation between India and Pakistan is really a welcome development.”
Mathai said he sees it as a win-win proposition for both sides.
“Enhanced economic cooperation contributes to economic growth and development in our two countries which is the primary objective on both sides,” Mathai said.
WITH INPUTS FROM PTI
Lastupdate on : Thu, 5 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 5 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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