India, Pak to review cross-LoC CBMs
India, Pak to review cross-LoC CBMs
5 July 2012
The Daily Excelsior
: India and Pakistan will meet later this month in Islamabad to review the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) across the LoC and to streamline them besides proposing new ones. This was decided during the Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries that concluded here today. Both sides recognised the need to strengthen the existing Cross-LoC CBMs for streamlining the arrangements to facilitate travel and trade across the Line of Control (LoC). 'They decided to convene a meeting of the Working Group on Cross-LoC CBMs on July 19, 2012 in Islamabad to recommend steps for strengthening and streamlining and effectively implementing the existing trade and travel arrangements and propose modalities for introducing additional cross LoC CBMs,' a joint statement issued here said. Since the ceasefire along the LoC in November 2003, both countries have focused on people-centric approach encouraging movement of people, goods and ideas across the LoC. Besides movement of people, trade has become an important element in Indo-Pak dialogues. Referring to the issue of trade, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, in a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani, said, 'The forward movement on economic and commercial cooperation between India and Pakistan is really a welcome development.' Mathai said he sees it as a win-win proposition for both sides. 'Enhanced economic cooperation contributes to economic growth and development in our two countries which is the primary objective on both sides,' Mathai said. Armed with evidence gathered from arrested LeT terrorist Abu Jundal, India today made it clear that taking action against the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks will be the 'biggest confidence-building measure of all' by Pakistan, which rejected involvement of its state agencies in the 26-11 carnage. Pushing Pakistan to take action against the guilty in Mumbai attacks, New Delhi asserted that the ongoing interrogation of Jundal, the LeT handler of the terrorists who carried out Mumbai terror strikes, has added 'urgency' to this matter. 'I emphasised that terrorism was 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 CBM of all....The ongoing interrogation of Abu Jundal has now added urgency to the matter. 'I did take up the matter with (Pakistan) Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and shared information with him,' Mathai said at a joint press interaction with Jilani here. Noting that extensive information on perpetrators of 26-11 has been provided to Pakistan during Home Secretary- level talks in Islamabad in May, Mathai said, 'We will continue to pursue this matter with determination to its logical conclusion.' Asked about Home Minister P Chidambaramís statement that Jundalís has revealed that Pakistan state actors were involved in the Mumbai attacks, Jilani said, 'I would very strongly reject any insinuation of any involvement of any state agency in any acts of terrorism in India.' However, on Jundalís revelations that Pakistan was involved in Mumbai carnage which killed 166 people, Jilani said he has assured Mathai that whatever evidence that India has should be shared with Pakistan and it will investigate the matter. Pakistan is even willing to offer 'a joint investigation' in the whole affair, Jilani said. Noting that he has shared the outcome of the ongoing investigation of Jundal provided to MEA, Mathai said India was looking forward to Pakistan for taking action on the information 'conveyed'. Asked if Jundalís revelations will impact on the positive strides the Indo-Pak bilateral ties have made so far, Jilani said, 'We hope not. There should definitely be no setback because setback is something we are not for.' Briefing reporters on their two-day parleys on peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, including CBMs and promotion of friendly exchanges, Mathai and Jilani said both countries recognise that terrorism poses a continuing threat to peace and security in the region. 'They reaffirmed the strong commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate terrorism in an effective and comprehensive manner so as to eliminate the scourge in all its forms and manifestations,' a joint statement said. It also said the foreign secretaries had a 'comprehensive exchange of views on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir and agreed to continue discussions in a purposeful and forward looking manner with the view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences.' The Foreign Secretaries were assisted by senior officials of both sides, including the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal and Pakistanís High Commissioner- designate to India Salman Bashir. The two sides also talked about confidence-building measures, including in trade and travel and nuclear fields. They also decided to hold separate meetings of expert- level groups on Nuclear and Conventional CBMs to discuss implementation and strengthening of the existing CBMs and suggest additional mutually acceptable steps that could build greater trust and confidence between the two countries, thereby contributing to peace and security. India also showed the copies of the Pakistani passport and Pakistanís domestic identity cards issued to Jundal in the name of Riyasat Ali to the visiting delegation. It also asked the Pakistani side to find out how such crucial national documents were issued to Jundal and to find out who were behind providing the passport and the two ID cards to Jundal. Jundal had revealed that he, along with LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, was in the control room in Pakistan during 26-11 Mumbai carnage in 2008 following which Chidambaram, at a press conference, had said that the interrogation shows the involvement of Pakistan state actors. Apart from sharing information on Jundal, India also raised the issue of Jilani meeting Kashmiri separatists, a move which has not gone down well with New Delhi and slow pace of Mumbai case trial. 'We have had a frank and constructive discussion on the issues in the agenda. We have exchanged our respective views on areas of mutual interest and concern. This dialogue has contributed to a better understanding of each otherís positions. '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,' Mathai said. The Indian side also raised the issue of Sarabjit Singh, who is accused of spying in Pakistan and is currently on death row. Taking note of 'positive' movement on economic and commercial cooperation, Mathai said, 'It is a welcome development as it is a win-win proposition for both sides. Enhanced economic cooperation contributes to economic growth and development in our countries which is the primary objective on both sides.' He said India looks forward to make progress with Pakistan on the trade track in accordance with the roadmap agreed. 'At the same time, terrorism poses a continuing threat to peace and security and full normalisation of bilateral relations.' In this regard, the two countries reiterated the firm and undiluted commitment to fight and eliminate this scourge in all its forms and manifestations and bring those responsible for such crimes to justice. 'We look forward to the realisation of this commitment,' Mathai said. After taking stock of the various engagements that have taken place, he said, 'We have made some progress in people-to -people relations and trade. We are cognisant that much more needs to be done and the path ahead is not an easy one. 'But the very fact that boths sides are determined to sit across the table and resolve all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue, in a peaceful manner, is a positive step in the right direction.' Recognising the need to strengthen the existing cross-LoC CBMs for streamlining the arrangements to facilitate travel and trade, the two secretaries decided to convene a meeting of the Working Group on Cross-LoC CBMs on July 19, 2012 in Islamabad to recommend steps for strengthening and streamlining and effectively implementing the existing trade and travel arrangements and propose modalities for introducing additional cross LoC CBMs. Underlining the importance of greater people-to-people contacts and friendly exchanges in building a relationship of trust and friendship between the two countries, they noted that the text of a revised bilateral Visa Agreement has already been finalised and decided to work for its early signing. They also emphasised the importance of greater parliamentary exchanges, promotion of cooperation in various fields including facilitating visits to religious shrines and cessation of hostile propaganda against each other. The Foreign Secretaries also emphasised the need to promote media and sports contacts and greater trust and mutual understanding through constructive dialogue. The resumption of Indo-Pak bilateral cricket ties is a matter to be decided by the BCCI and the PCB even though security remains an issue, Indian Foreign secretary Mathai said today. Mathai said the two countries strive to be actively involved with each other in the sporting arena. 'As for resumption of cricketing ties, this is a matter between the BCCI and the PCB. There are issues of security as well. However, as you will see in the joint statement we have emphasised the need to promote sports contacts between the two countries,' Mathai said. Jilani also said that things are moving forward in the right direction on the issue. 'I had discussion for the revival of cricket ties between the two countries. I think that we will continue with this formative trajectory that we have adopted over the years in moving forward in our relationship,' Jilani said. The Indo-Pak bilateral cricket ties have snapped after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks even though the two teams have come face to face in multi-team events such as the World Cup. The Pakistan Cricket Board is pushing hard for the resumption of ties but the BCCI is playing hardball citing the busy international schedule. A desperate Pakistan has even offered to host the Indians on neutral turf given the perils of touring the strife-torn nation which is facing considerable revenue loss due to international teamsí refusal to play there. No international team has played in Pakistan after the 2009 Lahore terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team during some of the visiting players were injured in firing by terrorists. .