India, Pak unveil CBMs on cross-LoC trade, travel

India, Pak unveil CBMs on cross-LoC trade, travel

27 July 2011
The Daily Excelsior


New Delhi: Carrying forward their engagement process, India and Pakistan today announced new Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) notwithstanding the unhappiness here about new Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders. The CBMs include increasing cross-LoC trading days and expanding travel to include tourism and religious aspects apart from relaxing permit conditions for travel by people of Jammu and Kashmir to the other side of LoC by having a system of six-month multiple entry. The CBMs were announced after the discussion between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and 34-year old Khar during which both sides expressed the intent to move forward and forge a 'cooperative' relationship although they stuck to their known positions on key issues such as J-K and terror. Replying to a query on Indo-Pak position on Kashmir and Khar's meeting with Hurriyat leaders yesterday, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, at a joint press conference with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, said 'neither of us underestimate the difficulties involved. There are divergences and that divergence was illustrated yesterday by the meetings you referred to. 'We have a very different point of view from Pakistan on that particular event and we have expressed our concerns in a frank and candid manner to the Pakistani side on this', Rao said. However, downplaying the Khar-Hurriyat meeting, Bashir said 'too much should not be read' into the meeting. Khar has said 'the meeting yesterday cannot be construed in any manner, either intentionally or by design, to cast any shadow on today's talks. It is to the contrary,' Bashir said. Khar, within hours of her arrival, had met both the factions of Hurriyat Conference- one led by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other by moderate leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at the Pakistan High Commission here. During the 'fruitful' meeting, which lasted for over two and half hours and were held in a 'candid, cordial and constructive' atmosphere, the two sides reviewed J-K, counter -terrorism measures, including progress in the 26-11 case in Pakistan, humanitarian issues, commercial and economic cooperation, Wullar Barrage- Tulbul Navigation Project, Sir Creek, Siachen, peace and security including CBMs. 'The Ministers held discussions on the issue of J-K and agreed to the need for continued discussions in a purposeful and forward looking manner with a view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences,' said a joint statement issued after the talks. During the meeting, India also raised the issue of slow pace of Mumbai terror attack case in Pakistan and emphasised on the speedy action to bring to justice the culpable of the 26-11 and also Pakistan's ISI funding Kashmir separatist Ghulam Nabi Fai who had been recently arrested in the US. Asked on the recent rhetoric by JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, and the propaganda by Fai, Bashir said this matter of propaganda was discussed. There was conscious effort from both sides not to encourage rhetorics. 'You cannot attribute individual's views to a state views and it is important to keep that distinction in mind. Of course whether it is Hurriyat or Fai, our position is always well known. So, I don't think it should be construed as anti-India propaganda', he said. Bashir also said 'I just want to make a general point here to enable you to understand what we are trying to do in this process. We want to take this process forward. We agreed that it should be a sustained process which we believe is in the best interest of the two peoples. But in doing so, we have to make a conscious effort to be respectful to each other and to be mindful of each other's concerns.' 'But that does not in any way mean that either of us would seek some sort of advantage over the other. That is not the spirit that would guide this dialogue. I am sure that is the case and everything that we do is with our prejudice to our known positions, that is the case of both countries. I think it is based on that understanding. I think probably it would not be appropriate to try to read more into what is said and what is not said.' Asked when India will come out with the investigations in Samjhauta blast case, Rao said the investigations are one and once it is completed it will be shared with Pakistan. After his meeting with Khar, Krishna said 'I am satisfied at the progress achieved in this round of the resumed dialogue. The outcomes have been as per our expectations. While being fully cognisant of the challenges that lie ahead, I can confidently say that our relations are on the right track.' 'This is indeed a new era of bilateral cooperation between the two countries and it is our desire and I believe after having spoken to you (Krishna), that it is the desire and commitment of both the Governments to make it an uninterrupted and an uninterpretable process,' Khar said. (PTI)


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