Remove shadow of gun: India tells Pakistan
Two days of talks between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her counterpart Salman Bashir ended here on a positive note paving the way for discussions between Foreign Ministers of the two countries in New Delhi next month.
India pressed for “satisfactory closure” of the trial in Pakistan of Mumbai terror attack accused, saying it would help in normalisation of ties. Pakistan wanted terrorism issue to be addressed in a “collaborative” manner.
At a joint press conference at the Pakistan Foreign Office, Ms. Rao and Mr. Bashir struck a positive tone describing their discussions as “very constructive and purposeful“.
Various nuclear and conventional CBMs were discussed during the talks and it was agreed to convene separate expert-level meetings on these subjects to strengthen the existing arrangements and consider additional measures later this year.
Both sides agreed to convene a meeting of the Working Group on Cross-LoC CBMs to recommend measures for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements across the LoC and propose modalities for introducing additional Cross-LoC CBMs. The group will meet next month.
The Indian Foreign Secretary made a pointed reference to the need to do away with “shadow of the gun and extremist violence” while dealing with the “complex issue” of Jammu and Kashmir.
Ms. Rao said, “I think we have to make peace and reconciliation step by step…We must do away with the shadow of gun and extremist violence because it is only in an atmosphere free of terror and violence that we can discuss resolution of such a complex issue.”
She also said the “unleashing of violence” should end as “military conflict” has no space in 21st century. It should be replaced by a “vocabulary of peace” for resolution of issues in an atmosphere “free from terror and violence“.
Mr. Bashir said the two sides made their “well-known” positions on the Kashmir issue, nonetheless they agreed to continue discussions to find a common ground. It did not mean that anybody has changed the position, he said.
“We have tried to move forward,” he added.
The Joint Statement said the Foreign Secretaries exchanged 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“.
Referring to cross-LoC CBMs, Mr. Bashir said that these were aimed at creating “more comfort and relief” to Jammu and Kashmir.
Replying to a question to whether India raised the issue of 26/11 probe and trial in Pakistan, Ms. Rao said “obviously the issue is of critical importance (to India).”
She said the issue has been discussed at Home Secretary level meetings and she followed it up.
Mr. Bashir also said Pakistan understands concerns in India on Mumbai attack issue but adeded that terrorism in generic sense poses threat to both the countries. “It needed to be eliminated in a collaborative approach,” he said.
To a question by a Pakistani journalist on the Samjhauta blast case, Ms. Rao said India has promised to “share the outcome” once the investigations are over.
The joint statement said the two countries also discussed measures for promoting cooperation in various fields including, facilitating visits to religious shrines, media exchanges, holding of sports tournaments and cessation of hostile propaganda against each other.
Ms. Rao said the two sides discussed all aspects of cross-LoC CBMs including the number of trading days and points, banking facilities and more transport linkages.
The two countries also agreed to the need for promoting friendly exchanges between the two countries. They noted with satisfaction the progress made towards finalisation of the Visa Agreement which will help liberalise the visa regime and facilitate people-to-people, business-to-business and sports contacts.
The joint statement said the Foreign Secretaries will meet again in New Delhi on a date to be decided through diplomatic channels to prepare for the meeting of the Foreign Ministers.
Both sides agreed to the need for promoting friendly exchanges between the two countries.
“They noted with satisfaction the progress made towards finalisation of the Visa Agreement which will help liberalise the visa regime and facilitate people-to-people, business-to-business and sports contacts,” it said.
The two countries also discussed measures for promoting cooperation in various fields including, facilitating visits to religious shrines, media exchanges, holding of sports tournaments and cessation of hostile propaganda against each other.
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.