Terrorism not to derail India-Pakistan peace process

May 19th, 2008 - 8:10 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Manish Chand
Lahore, May 18 (IANS) India and Pakistan will discuss terrorism when they begin bilateral talks here Tuesday, with both sides indicating they will not let the issue derail their peace process. The meeting between Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir will begin exactly a week after a string of bomb blasts rocked Jaipur May 13 killing over 60 people and injuring around 200.

Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will also raise the issue of cross-border terrorism with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad Wednesday.

But this time, both sides are determined not to allow the contentious issue of cross-border terrorism affect their peace process, officials said.

There is satisfaction here that unlike after the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings when India blamed Pakistan-based terrorists, New Delhi has not pointed a finger at Islamabad after the Jaipur blasts.

“We appreciate the Indian restraint. It sets a positive note for peace and friendship between the two countries,” a politician from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that leads the ruling coalition told IANS here.

He welcomed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that the Jaipur blasts had tried to target the normalisation process between India and Pakistan.

This reflected the desire of both leaderships against allowing terrorism to cloud relations between the two countries, said the PPP leader who did not wish to be named.

“Everybody here wants peace with India. Terrorism is as much a problem in Pakistan as much as it is in India. Terrorism is our common enemy,” Mujibur Rahman Shami, editor of Daily Pakistan, an English daily, told IANS.

“Finger pointing helps nobody and is counter-productive. There should be joint investigations into incidents like the Jaipur blasts,” he added.

There is nothing to suggest that Jaipur is going to cast a shadow on the talks in Islamabad this week, an editorial in the Dawn newspaper asserted.

Pakistani Minister Qureshi also struck a positive note on the eve of the talks, saying Kashmir-specific confidence-building measures that make the Line of Control (LoC) irrelevant could help resolve the decades-old issue. The LoC divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries.

India has vigorously advocated creating a soft border and promoting trade and travel between the people of Kashmir.

Pakistan wants good ties with India as better relations will help resolve all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Kashmir, Qureshi said at an interaction Saturday with leaders from the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir.

Dealing with home-grown terrorism has climbed to the top of Pakistan’s national security agenda. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is headed to Egypt to brief US President George W. Bush on Pakistan’s new anti-terror policy.

The new policy centres round a deal with Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in the restive tribal areas that will involve the government withdrawing its troops from south Waziristan in return for an immunity from terror attacks.

The Friday release of Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin, by the Taliban after holding him for 97 days indicated that a deal between the militants and the government was imminent.

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