EVEN as India,in the wake of the arrest of 26/11 accused Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal,today said that bringing the guilty to justice will be the biggest confidence-building measure that Islamabad can take,Pakistan rejected charges of its state agencies being involved in terrorist activities in India.
Addressing a joint press conference after the talks with visiting Pakistani foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani,foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai said: I emphasised that terrorism was the biggest threat to peace and security in the region and bringing the guilty to justice in the Mumbai terror attacks will be the biggest CBM of all… The ongoing interrogation of Ansari has now added urgency to the matter.
He said he had taken up the matter with Jilani and shared information. We will continue to pursue this matter with determination to its logical conclusion, said Mathai,adding that India expects the realisation of this commitment and looks forward to its fulfillment.
Jilani,when asked about Home Minister P Chidambarams statement that Ansari had revealed the involvement of Pakistan state actors,said: I would very strongly reject any insinuation of any involvement of any state agency in any acts of terrorism in India.
Jilani said he had assured Mathai that whatever evidence that India has should be shared with Pakistan and it will investigate the matter. Pakistan is even willing to offer a joint investigation in the whole affair,Jilani said.
The broad takeaway,after the second round of talks between the two countries,is that India was able to take up the issue of terrorism on at least three platforms from the home secretary talks to the foreign secretary talks. Sources said the Indian side used both sessions on Wednesday on peace and security and on Jammu and Kashmir to convey its concerns on terrorism.
In the joint statement there was some important word play which signified forward movement in their approach when compared to last years joint statement between the two foreign secretaries. They reaffirmed the strong commitment to fight and eliminate terrorism in an effective and comprehensive manner.
Replying to a question on Pakistans apparent delay in taking action in the 26/11 case,Jilani said: We have,over the years,improved our level of cooperation. And in case there are certain gaps that need to be filled,I think we should fill those gaps in a spirit of cooperation. That is the only way that we can move forward on this very important issue.
Sources said the discussions were held in a more mature manner and there was no rancour. The two sides discussed a series of CBMs multi-entry permits for cross-LoC travel,meeting between Coast Guards,cooperation between defence think-tanks,pilgrimages across LoC and extended timings for vehicles crossing the borders.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is expected to travel to Pakistan in the first half of September following scheduling issues on the proposed date of July 27.
On Jammu and Kashmir,the joint statement repeated last years paragraph,only adding the word comprehensive. The foreign secretaries had a comprehensive exchange of views on the issue of Jammu & 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, it said. Sources said both sides stuck to their well-known positions.
There was lowering of rhetoric on infiltration as compared to the earlier statement,when former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao had said in Islamabad that the shadow of the gun needs to end,and the ideology of military conflict has no place in India-Pakistan relationship.
The Indian side is also understood to have raised the issue of Sarabjit Singh,who is currently on death row in Pakistan.
However,one paragraph was missing in this years joint statement. The foreign secretaries agreed that people of the two countries are at the heart of the relationship and that humanitarian issues should be accorded priority and treated with sensitivity, the statement had said last year.
Jilani pitched for a revival of cricket ties,to which Mathai replied that this was really a matter for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board.
There are issues of security as well which arise. However,as you will see in the joint statement which we have circulated,we have both emphasised the need to promote sports and media contacts between the two countries, said Mathai.