India-Pakistan anti-terror mechanism to meet next week

June 17th, 2008 - 8:25 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) Indian and Pakistani officials will meet in Islamabad next week for the third meeting of the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism since its formation two years ago. Both sides had agreed to reactivate the anti-terror mechanism during External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Pakistan last month. The ministry of external affairs Tuesday announced that Additional Secretary (political and international organizations) Vivek Katju will lead the Indian side to the talks, while the Pakistani delegation will be headed by Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific) Masood Khalid.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be in India for talks with the Indian leadership three days after the Islamabad meeting of the anti-terror mechanism.

The Mechanism was established after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf met on the sidelines of a Non-Aligned Summit in Havana in September 2006. It was designed for exchange of specific information to help in investigation of terrorist acts, as well as talk on counter-terrorism initiatives.

The meetings were scheduled to be held quarterly, but so far only two meetings have been held - in March and October 2007.

During the two meetings, Indian officials had reportedly given their Pakistan counterpart names and “evidence” of across-the-border source of several bomb blasts, including the one in the Samjhauta Express and the Hyderabad blasts in 2007.

A democratically elected government led by political parties is now at the helm in Pakistan.

In fact, after the Jaipur blasts in March, there had been striking absence of any Indian rhetoric blaming Pakistan for it, though the prime minister had stated that elements determined to disrupt the India-Pakistan peace process might have been behind it.

During Mukherjee’s Pakistan visit, the Indian side appeared satisfied with the text of the joint statement in which “both sides reiterated their commitment to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and re-emphasised the need for effective steps for the complete elimination of this menace”.

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