No Pak agency involved in Mumbai attacks, India told
NEW DELHI: Pakistan and India ended two days of peace talks on Thursday, vowing to keep their dialogue on track despite renewed tensions over the alleged role of Pakistani ‘state actors’ in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, a charge that Pakistan has vehemently denied.
The talks between Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani covered terrorism, confidence-building measures and the South Asian rivals’ core territorial dispute over divided Kashmir.
The two top civil servants in their respective ministries said they would meet again in Islamabad to pave the way for foreign minister-level talks in September.The talks in New Delhi were clouded by charges arising from India’s recent arrest of Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, suspected of being a key handler for the Mumbai attackers who killed 166 people in India’s financial capital.
India says Ansari has admitted helping coordinate the deadly assault from a command post in Karachi, and his testimony has renewed Indian accusations that ‘state elements’ in Pakistan were involved.
At a joint news conference, Jilani insisted the charge was baseless. “I would very strongly reject any insinuation of any involvement of any state agency in acts of terrorism in India,” Jilani said. “If we keep accusing each other that will be of no benefit and we will not find any result,” he added.
His remarks were a response to specific allegations levelled on Wednesday, as the foreign secretary talks began, by Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram who argued that Ansari’s evidence could only lead to one conclusion. “It is no longer possible to deny that though the incident happened in Mumbai, there was a control room in Pakistan before and during the incident,” Chidambaram said. “It is clear that (Pakistani) state actors were there,” he added.
Addressing Thursday’s news conference, Mathai stressed that bringing those guilty for the Mumbai carnage to justice ‘would be the biggest confidence-building measure of all.’
“We shall pursue this matter to its logical conclusion,” Mathai said of the Indian investigation into Ansari’s testimony.
Despite the renewed tensions over the Mumbai attacks, and the recent political upheaval in Pakistan, Jilani insisted nothing should be allowed to prevent the peace process going forward. “There should be absolutely no setback, because a setback is something we cannot afford,” he said. –AFP
APP adds: A joint statement issued at the conclusion of the two-day second round of the resumed dialogue process between Pakistan and India said the talks held in New Delhi focused on peace and security including CBMs, Jammu and Kashmir, and promotion of friendly exchanges.
“The talks were held in a frank and constructive atmosphere. Both sides reiterated their desire to carry forward the dialogue process in a purposeful and result-oriented manner,” the statement added.
The foreign secretaries reviewed the ongoing implementation of the already adopted nuclear and conventional CBMs. It was decided that separate meetings of the Expert Level Groups on Nuclear and Conventional CBMs will be held to discuss implementation and strengthening of the existing CBMs.
The meetings will suggest aitional mutually acceptable steps that could build greater trust and confidence between the two countries, thereby contributing to peace and security. The dates for the meetings of Expert Level Groups will be determined through diplomatic channels.
The foreign secretaries noted that both countries recognised that terrorism posed a continuing threat to peace and security. They reaffirmed the strong commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate terrorism in an effective and comprehensive manner so as to eliminate the scourge in all its forms and manifestations.
The foreign secretaries had a ‘comprehensive exchange of views’ on the issue of occupied 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.
Both sides recognised the need to strengthen the existing Cross-LoC CBMs for streamlining the arrangements to facilitate travel and trade across 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, streamlining and effectively implementing the existing trade and travel arrangements and propose modalities for introducing additional cross LoC CBMs.
Both sides underlined the importance of greater people-to-people contacts and friendly exchanges in building a relationship of trust and friendship between the two countries. They noted that the text of a revised bilateral Visa Agreement has already been finalised and decided to work for its early signing. They emphasised the importance of greater parliamentary exchanges, promotion of cooperation in various fields including facilitating visits to religious shrines, and cessation of hostile propaganda against each other.
The foreign secretaries also emphasised the need to promote media and sports contacts. They meet again in Islamabad, on a date to be decided through diplomatic channels, to prepare for the meeting of the foreign ministers in September 2012.