New Delhi: India and Pakistan said action on terrorism should not be linked to peace talks between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, signalling a revival in a dialogue stalled by November’s Mumbai attacks.
In a joint statement issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani at the venue of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the two leaders recognized that dialogue is the only way forward.
Talks between the two traditional rivals stalled after five years of progress in relations following the 26-29 November attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people. India blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba for the raid and demanded the perpetrators be brought to justice.
Joint agenda: PM Manmohan Singh (R) with his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani at the NAM summit in Egypt on Thursday. Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters
India presented a dossier of evidence to Pakistan in January. The government in Islamabad in February acknowledged the Mumbai operation was planned on its soil and said it had made some arrests.
Both leaders agreed that the two countries will share real-time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats, according to the statement.
India is ready to discuss all outstanding issues, it quoted Singh as saying.
Before the raid on Mumbai, dialogue between India and Pakistan had included the divided territory of Kashmir, economic and commercial cooperation, terrorism and drug trafficking. It had helped build diplomatic, transport and sporting links.
“A lot more is needed to be done before substantial negotiations began,” said D. Suba Chandran, deputy director at the New Delhi-based Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
“India and Pakistan are not going to resolve their differences,” he said. “That kind of a maturity hasn’t set in. It will progress as the composite dialogue had progressed: a bus service here and opening of a border there.”
Thursday’s statement was the result of American pressure, he said.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton arrives in India on Friday to help boost ties with the South Asian nation. The Obama administration is keen to improve relations between India and Pakistan to help its strategy to stabilize the region.
Khalid Qayum in Islamabad and Alaa Shahine in Cairo contributed to this story.