September 26, 2008 1:33:46 am
Realising that a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was an absolute must for newly elected Pakistan President Asif Zardari in his first major international outing, India pushed hard and won itself some useful assurances which Pakistan agreed would be “visible” and “verifiable”. Islamabad agreed to a meeting of the anti-terror mechanism next month to specifically discuss the Indian embassy bombing in Kabul.
Pakistan also agreed to start the cross-LoC trade from October 21 on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot routes and gave up partly its reluctance on the Kargil-Skardu route, agreeing to discuss the modalities soon. It was also decided to open the Wagah-Attari road link and Khokrapar-Munabao rail link for trade.
Though the nearly 90-minute meeting had Zardari calling Singh the “father of modern India”, it was clear from the joint statement that Indians had done some hard talking. The leaders, officials said, spent a lot of time in one-on-one talks.
“Both leaders acknowledged that the peace process has been under strain in recent months. They agreed that violence, hostility and terrorism have no place in the vision they share for the relationship, and must be visibly and verifiably prevented. Severe action would be taken against any elements directing or involved in terrorist acts… Both leaders agreed that the forces that have tried to derail the peace process must be defeated” the statement said.
Foreign Secretaries will schedule meetings for the fifth round of the composite dialogue process. It was agreed that the “ceasefire should be stabilized” for which DGMOs and sector commanders will “stay in regular contact”.
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