India for concrete results on terror, more trade with Pakistan (Roundup)

November 27th, 2008 - 2:05 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Islamabad, Nov 27 (IANS) India Wednesday impressed upon Pakistan to show concrete results in combating terrorism even as the two sides sought to advance their peace process by intensifying economic ties and removing hurdles in the way of cross-border trade.External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi held talks in New Delhi lasting over one and a half hour on a wide range of bilateral issues and set a positive tone for the ongoing fifth round of composite dialogue between the two countries.

Pakistan called for putting “six decades of acrimony and hostility behind” and stressed on adding “a new leaf” in relations between the two neighbours.

“We have a window of opportunity and we must not let it pass,” Qureshi said while underlining a new positive environment in his country for deepening relations with India.

Setting a “positive pitch” for dialogue, Qureshi promised to address India’s security concerns and invited Indian cricket team to visit Pakistan.

The two ministers sought to invigorate the peace process by discussing the intensification of economic ties, strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation, the Chenab water row and removing bottlenecks from bilateral trade.

“We agreed to address the menace of terrorism which threatens societal stability and the state,” Mukherjee said after holding talks with his Pakistani counterpart at their joint press conference in New Delhi.

Alluding to the special meeting of the joint anti-terror mechanism to address issues relating to the bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul in which India suspects the hand of ISI, Mukherjee said: “We agreed that these institutions should show concrete results.”

“We recognize that both of us are victims of terrorism. We have to jointly combat this menace and threat,” Qureshi said while underlining that the anti-terror mechanism and home secretary-level talks are important institutional mechanisms of dealing with the issue.

Qureshi is on a four-day visit to India that also takes hom to Chandigarh, Ajmer and Jaipur. Both Mukherjee and Qureshi will travel to Chandigarh Thursday to address a seminar.

Strengthening cooperation in counter-terrorism figured prominently in discussions between the home secretaries of India and Pakistan at their two-day meeting in Islamabad that ended Wednesday.

“Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and affirmed their resolve to cooperate with each other to combat the menace of terrorism,” a joint statement said.

“Severe action be taken against any elements involved in terrorist acts,” the statement said.

The home secretaries also decided that the Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan and the Central Bureau of Investigation of India will meet soon to discuss cooperation in area of human trafficking, illegal immigration, and counterfeit currency, along with Red Corner Notices (RCN) subjects.

An MoU on drug demand reduction and prevention of illicit trafficking in narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances was also initialed.

Alluding to the cross-border trade which was launched Oct 21, Mukherjee drew attention to “certain teething problems and bottlenecks” that need to be addressed to carry the process forward.

Qureshi agreed on the need to address operational difficulties in the way of cross-border trade and called for enhancing trade between the two countries. He also called for increasing religious pilgrimage between people of the two countries.

The issue of the release of Sarabjeet Singh, Indian death row prisoner in Pakistan, also figured in the discussions. Qureshi said Pakistan was examining India’s request for his release and hoped that “something positive” will come out of it.

India also raised the issue of the release of Sarabjit Singh, who has been languishing in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail for 18 years on account of his alleged complicity in bombings, at the home secretary-level talks.

Mukherjee also sought to allay Pakistan’s concerns about the alleged diversion of water from the Chenab river and underlined that water will be distributed according to the Indus Waters Treaty.

At the home secretary talks, the two sides agreed to exchange by Dec 31 the names of those civil prisoners, who have completed their sentence and whose national status has been confirmed, with a view to facilitating their release in January.

The two sides also decided that the verification of nationality status would be completed within six weeks of provision of consular access.

The two sides underscored the need for visa liberalization and discussed a draft visa agreement. The Indian side will propose a draft visa agreement within four weeks.

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