Terroism back at centrestage of India-Pakistan talks

May 14th, 2008 - 1:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Pranay Sharma
New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) The synchronized bomb blasts Tuesday in Jaipur, preceded by an attack at the Samba garrison in Jammu and Kashmir two days earlier, has brought back “terrorism” to the centrestage of India-Pakistan talks scheduled for next week. “There is no doubt that terrorism will now be at the centrestage of the forthcoming talks,” highly placed official sources in South Block told IANS Wednesday.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will travel to Islamabad May 21 for talks with his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet a day before their meeting to review the progress made in the fourth round of what they call their “Composite Dialogue.”

Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism are among the eight issues in the dialogue framework between the two countries. But latest developments in Jaipur and Samba have ensured that the issue of terrorism dominates the forthcoming dialogue between the two sides.

This will be the first formal engagement between India and Pakistan since the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led coalition government came to power in Islamabad in March this year.

India has spoken about “foreign hand” behind the Jaipur blasts. But so far, it has refrained from naming Pakistan or any other country for the attack that killed at least 60 people and injured over hundred. Indian authorities fear the death toll might rise.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani have condemned the Jaipur blasts as have many other leaders in the world.

Till now, there is nothing to indicate that the Jaipur blasts have jeopardized Mukherjee’s visit to Pakistan. The sources said the meetings between the two foreign ministers and the foreign secretaries of the two countries will be held as per schedule. But at the meetings, India will want to have a meaningful discussion with Pakistan on the issue of terrorism and what it calls “infiltration” across the border.

Defence Minister A. K. Anthony Tuesday told newsmen that “infiltration” across the border in Jammu and Kashmir was on the rise. Though he maintained that attempts of “enemies” to thwart the peace process.

“Till April by and large this year, infiltration has been under control. Now again serious attempts have started,” Anthony told reporters in Hussainiwala in Punjab after he returned from a visit to a forward base along the international border.

Antony spoke a few hours before the bombings shook Jaipur.

India knows that some of the attempts by militants to enter India from across the border and the terror groups operating in this country have links in Pakistan. But it has not yet been able to say for sure whether much of these linkages were being maintained with or without the patronage of the Pakistani establishment. There are serious problems within the ruling coalition in Islamabad since Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) has decided to pull out its ministers from the PPP-led government.

The new dispensation in Islamabad has identified improved relations with India as one of its priority areas. But fast paced domestic developments have not allowed it the time to focus attention on possible additional steps that can help in improving ties with India.

“India is committed to the peace process and improving ties with Pakistan,” sources in the foreign ministry said. “But we expect Pakistan to be mindful of our concerns over terrorism and infiltration from across the border.”

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