New Delhi: Foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan are expected to discuss terrorism, Kashmir and investigations into the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in talks that began in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Pakistani foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, who arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday, shook hands with his Indian host Ranjan Mathai before the two delegations sat down for discussions, but there were no opening statements to the media.
Indian foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai (R) shakes hands with his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani ahead of delegation level talks in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo / AFP
Besides the six-decade old dispute over Kashmir, steps to improve confidence between the neighbours, including in the nuclear field, are expected to be on the table, given that both countries possess atomic weapons and India has been worried about radical Islamist elements getting control of the nuclear weapons in Pakistan. Closer people-to-people contacts to minimise decades-old animosity and suspicion between hostile neighbours were also on the agenda.
India and Pakistan, who attained independence from British rule in 1947, have fought four wars, three of them over Kashmir. India accuses Pakistan of fomenting an Islamic insurgency in Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies though it admits to extending moral, political and diplomatic support to separatists.
A person close to the developments on Tuesday said terrorism emanating from Pakistan will be on the table for discussion. News reports quoted foreign minister S.M. Krishna as telling reporters on his way back from a bilateral visit to Tajikistan that “Pakistan has to do more on the issue of terrorism. But the issue of progress on terrorism has not held the dialogue process to ransom.”
Last month, India arrested Abu Jundal, an alleged handler of the 10 militants involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. At least 166 people were killed when the 10 gunmen targeted multiple locations in India’s commercial capital on 26-29 November 2008.
During Wednesday’s talks, India is expected to hand over to the Pakistan delegation copies of the Pakistani passport and domestic identity cards issued to Jundal, as proof of the involvement of Pakistan’s state agencies in the Mumbai attacks.
India has been demanding that Pakistan bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks and accuses Pakistan of dragging its feet on the case. Pakistan for its part says it too is a victim of terror and had in custody seven people allegedly involved in the plot.
Briefing reporters last week, home minister P. Chidambaram said the Pakistan-based founder of banned terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Hafiz Saeed was present in the Karachi control room from where the Mumbai terrorist attacks were orchestrated. This was disclosed by Jundal during interrogation, he said. Jundal has since revealed that after the Mumbai attack, the LeT wanted to attack a police training camp in Nashik.