New York: Acknowledging that the peace process has been “under strain” in recent months, India and Pakistan on Thursday announced that cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir will commence on October 21 and vowed to take “severe action” against any elements directing or involved in terrorist acts, giving fresh momentum for an “an early and full” normalisation of bilateral relations.
Unveiling a slew of measures for a “peaceful resolution and saisfactory settlement” of all bilateral issues including Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his first meeting with the new Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari agreed that the forces that have tried to derail the peace process msut be “defeated.”
Meeting on the sidelines of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly session at the Millenium hotel where the Pakistan President is staying, the two leaders came out with a joint statement agreeing that violence, hostility and terrorism have no place in the vision they share of the bilateral relationship and must be “visibly and verifiably” prevented.
In an apparent attempt to tell India that let bygones be bygones in the backdrop of rise in cross-border terrorism and ceasefire violations, Zardari reassured Singh that the Pakistan government stood by its commitments of January 6, 2004 to stamp out terrorism.
With the needle of suspicion pointing to Pakistans ISI for the bombing of he Indian Embassy in Kabul, the two leaders agreed to convene a special meeting of the Joint Anti-Terror mechanism next month to address mutual concerns including the Kabul attack.
Congratulating President Zardari on his election and the victory of democracy in Pakistan, Singh expressed the hope that this would pave the way for a “profound transformation” of the bilateral relationship so that India and Pakistan could work together on their shared objectives of peace prosperity and security.
The two leaders agreed to work for an early and full normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan on the basis of “mutual respect, peaceful co-existence and non-interference.”