Pakistan Continues To Deny Role In Mumbai Carnage
New Delhi: With 26/11 plotter Abu Jindal’s disclosures creating public outrage here, India Thursday pressed Pakistan to prosecute the 26/11 perpetrators and underlined this could be the biggest confidence building measure (CBM). Islamabad, however, strongly rejected any role of state actors in the Mumbai carnage and offered a joint probe.
The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, Ranjan Mathai and Jalil Abbas Jilani, wrapped up two days of talks on peace and security, including CBMs, Jammu and Kashmir as well as the promotion of friendly exchanges.
The talks underlined the political will of both sides to keep the fragile dialogue process going, but failed to bridge the gap on terror that has strained ties between the two subcontinental neighbours.
Issues thrown up by the disclosures made by 26/11 plotter Abu Jindal Hamza, which India said point to the involvement of Pakistani state actors in the Nov 26-29, 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, topped the discussions. “Terrorism is the biggest threat to peace and security in the region, and bringing the guilty to justice in the Mumbai terror attacks would be the biggest confidence building measure of all,” said Mathai, adding, “The arrest and the ongoing interrogation of Abu Jundal has now added urgency to this matter. I did take up the issue with Foreign Secretary Jilani and I have shared information with him.”
Mathai stressed that the investigation is under way and India will continue to pursue this matter to its logical conclusion.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna highlighted outrage in India over the slow pace of 26/11 justice when Jilani called on him later in the day. Krishna, according to sources, conveyed the view of the Indian political leadership that Islamabad must act on 26/11 justice so that a congenial public opinion is created to take the peace process forward.
Pakistan, however, refuted India’s accusation of the involvement of Pakistani state agencies in the Mumbai terror engineered by 10 Pakistanis that left 166 people, including many foreigners, dead and 238 injured. “I would very strongly reject any insinuation of any involvement of any state agency in acts of terrorism in India,” he said, adding, “I assured him that the entire evidence, whatever evidence that India has, should be shared with us, and we will investigate this matter. We will even be willing to offer joint investigation into the whole affair.”
Jilani stressed that “trading charges will not help” and called for greater cooperation between the home ministries and respective agencies of the two countries.
Despite differences in perceptions on the issue of terrorism, the two countries decided to pursue the dialogue and stressed on enhancing bilateral trade that could produce win-win outcomes. “While we might not agree on all issues, we do agree that relations between our two countries have to be normalised. There is a determination on both sides to take forward our dialogue with an open mind and a constructive spirit,” said Mathai.
Stressing that Jindal’s revelations do not constitute a setback to the revived peace process, Jilani underlined that the two countries have to move from an adversarial relationship to a positive narrative. “There should be absolutely no setback because setback is something that we cannot afford,” Jilani replied when asked whether Jindal’s revelations were a setback to the peace process. “We have positively assessed the dialogue process. We have made significant progress in all areas.”
Mathai agreed. “The forward movement on trade is a win-win proposition. We look forward to making progress on the trade track in accordance with the roadmap which has been agreed already by the two sides.”
The two sides discussed the Jammu and Kashmir issue and agreed to find a peaceful solution “by narrowing divergences and building convergences”.
In this context, both sides discussed strengthening CBMs to step up trade and travel across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir and decided to convene a meeting of the working group on cross-LoC CBMs July 19 in Islamabad.
The foreign secretaries also discussed the date for the visit of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to Islamabad and will meet again in Islamabad to prepare for the meeting of foreign ministers in September.
Krishna Thursday said he hopes to visit Islamabad in the first week of September for talks with his Pakistani counterpart.
The two countries also discussed revival of cricketing ties and focused on enhancing sports and media exchanges.
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