Islamabad: India on Friday made it clear to Pakistan that resolution of the Kashmir issue cannot take place under the “shadow of gun” as the two countries concluded “satisfactory” talks which resulted in agreement on various confidence building measures (CBMs).
Two days of talks between foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir ended here on a positive note paving the way for discussions between foreign ministers of the two countries in New Delhi next month.
India pressed for “satisfactory closure” of the trial in Pakistan of Mumbai terror attack accused, saying it would help in normalization of ties. Pakistan wanted terrorism issue to be addressed in a “collaborative” manner.
At a joint press conference at the Pakistan Foreign Office, Rao and Bashir struck a positive tone describing their discussions as “very constructive and purposeful”.
Various nuclear and conventional CBMs were discussed during the talks and it was agreed to convene separate expert-level meetings on these subjects to strengthen the existing arrangements and consider additional measures later this year.
Both sides agreed to convene a meeting of the Working Group on Cross-LoC CBMs to recommend measures for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements across the LoC and propose modalities for introducing additional Cross-LoC CBMs. The group will meet next month.
The Indian foreign secretary made a pointed reference to the need to do away with “shadow of the gun and extremist violence” while dealing with the “complex issue” of Jammu and Kashmir.
Replying to a question to whether India raised the issue of 26/11 probe and trial in Pakistan, Rao said “obviously the issue is of critical importance (to India).”
She said the issue has been discussed at home secretary level meetings and she followed it up.
Bashir also said Pakistan understands concerns in India on Mumbai attack issue but added that terrorism in generic sense poses threat to both the countries. “It needed to be eliminated in a collaborative approach,” he said.
To a question by a Pakistani journalist on the Samjhauta blast case, Rao said India has promised to “share the outcome” once the investigations are over.
The joint statement said the two countries also discussed measures for promoting cooperation in various fields including, facilitating visits to religious shrines, media exchanges, holding of sports tournaments and cessation of hostile propaganda against each other.
Rao said the two sides discussed all aspects of cross-LoC CBMs including the number of trading days and points, banking facilities and more transport linkages.
The two countries also agreed to the need for promoting friendly exchanges between the two countries. They noted with satisfaction the progress made towards finalization of the visa agreement which will help liberalize the visa regime and facilitate people-to-people, business-to-business and sports contacts.