ISI, Kabul mission blast to figure in talks with Pakistan

August 1st, 2008 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Aug 1 (IANS) India and Afghanistan are expected to raise with Pakistan the bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul as well as the activities of that country’s spy agency ISI during the 15th SAARC summit in Colombo, an official said here. Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who left for Colombo Friday to attend the SAARC summit, is expected to meet his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the sidelines of the summit with a view to reinvigorate the ongoing peace process, the official said.

Manmohan Singh and Hamid Karzai are likely to take up with Gilani Islamabad’s alleged involvement in the July 7 bomb blast outside the Indian embassy in Kabul in which two senior Indian officials were among 40 killed. Pakistan has rejected the charge.

“(Gilani’s) meeting with the Indian prime minister is scheduled for Saturday. There is likelihood of him meeting the Afghan president besides other South Asian leaders too,” said an official accompanying the prime minister.

According to the official, in the wake of some “allegations” by the American leadership on the activities of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), this issue is likely to be raised by the Indian and Afghan leaders in their separate meetings with Gilani.

According to media reports, US President George W. Bush in his talks with Gilani in Washington asked him about the role of ISI and who controls the spy agency that is alleged to have rogue elements with links with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the Advisor on Internal Affairs, Rehman Malik, has accused India of supporting Taliban activities.

Referring to media reports that New Delhi and Kabul may take up the Taliban issue at the SAARC summit, the official said that Islamabad will be more than happy if such issues are taken up at the regional level.

The theme of the 2008 summit is ‘The SAARC: Partnership for our People’. “Crucial issues like terrorism, energy and food will be discussed at the summit,” said the official.

“We certainly want SAARC to be an effective organization,” Prime Minister Gilani said before leaving for Colombo, adding that the foreign ministers of SAARC countries were working out the modalities.

Gilani said Pakistan wants good relations with all neighbouring countries and hoped the summit would try to remove any misunderstanding among the member states.

On Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee agreed at a meeting that their prime ministers “will come out with a comprehensive statement on bilateral engagement”.

Talking to journalists after his meeting with Mukherjee, Qureshi said the talks had helped “clear the air” between the two countries.

“A lot of steam had been let out of the pressure cooker. The dish we’re going to cook is going to be for the betterment of the region,” he was quoted as saying.

Earlier, talking to reporters at Manchester Airport where he made a brief stopover on his way back from the United States late Thursday night, Gilani had said ensuring Pakistan’s sovereignty was the major focus during his talks with the US leadership.

“Whether President Bush or (Barack) Obama, everyone in meetings talked about respecting Pakistan’s sovereignty,” the prime minister said.

Gilani termed the US visit successful ans said the top US administration showed support for Pakistan’s democracy and sovereignty.

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