M A I N   N E W S

India, Pakistan differ on joint terror mechanism
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 27
The anti-terrorism joint mechanism agreed between India and Pakistan has already run into rough weather even before its maiden meeting.

Indications available here are that Islamabad sees Jammu and Kashmir as outside the scope and purview of this joint mechanism.

Even more outrageous, from the Indian point of view, is the line being taken by Islamabad that it may be prepared to include terror outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) in the joint mechanism on terror, but definitely not the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM).

The Pakistani rationale is that the HM is a “home-grown movement”, a claim which New Delhi rubbishes.

Though there has not been any formal talks between the two neighbours on joint mechanism, as agreed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf in Havana eleven days ago, indications emanating from Pakistan are not very positive.

As a result, HM founder chief Syed Salahuddin, who also doubles up as the Chairman of the 14-member United Jihad Council, yesterday told an Indian television channel that HM was going to be kept out of the purview of the joint Indo-Pak mechanism on terror. This prompted the Ministry of External Affairs to come out with a statement this evening.

In response to questions regarding press reports and statements on the scope of the proposed India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism, the Foreign Office spokesman said: “The anti-terrorism institutional mechanism agreed to between India and Pakistan in Havana is clearly mandated by the September 16 Joint Statement to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations. There is no doubt in our minds as to what constitutes terrorism and it is clear that the group is mandated to address all forms of terrorism.”

The Pakistani side has been dangling the carrot of JeM and LeT before the Indians as far as the cooperation on terrorism is concerned. The reason is that these two outfits are proving to be a nuisance to Pakistan itself and have been behind several failed assassination bids on the life of General Musharraf.

Islamabad sees the joint mechanism as not being operational in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan may be willing to share intelligence on LeT and JeM — thus leaving its post-Godhra Muslim extremist base in India high and dry — but it will never agree on sharing intelligence with regard to Jammu and Kashmir.

India and Pakistan have witnessed a rare honeymoon between their intelligence agencies due to personal interest shown by the then Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Ms Benazir Bhutto respectively. The honeymoon, which began in 1988 lasted until 1991. During this period, chiefs of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) held several summits in neutral places like Dubai, Singapore and East Europe.


Pakistan offers visa on arrival to Indians
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, September 27
In a major policy shift, Pakistan has said visas will be given to Indians on arrival and citizens of 23 other countries.

The visa on arrival (VOA) scheme was announced by Pakistan’s Minister for Tourism Nilofar Bakhtiar after receiving Pakistani passengers from New Delhi at Wagha Border today.

Ms Bhakhtiar said the scheme, which was recently approved, would be implemented in two months, she was quoted by state-run APP news agency from Lahore. The scheme was aimed at making Pakistan a tourist-friendly destination, she said.

She said the VOA period had also been extended from five to 15 days while visit visa would now be of one-month duration instead of 15 days.

A group of at least five persons sent by approved tour operator of the respective country would have the right to get VOA, she said responding to another query.

“Today is the World Tourism Day and I am receiving passengers at Wagha to convey a massage to our neighbouring country that Pakistan always adheres to friendship, fraternity, and peace,” she said.

The people-to-people contact between Pakistan and India would guarantee improved bilateral relations, the minister added. — PTI


Nirupama Rao envoy to China
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 27
Ms Nirupama Rao, currently India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, was today appointed as the next Ambassador of India to China. Ms Rao will replace Mr Nalin Surie.

Mr Deepak Bhojwani, currently Ambassador to Venezuela, has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Colombia in succession to Mrs Nilima Mitra. Mr A. Ramesh currently Ambassador of India to Kyrgyzstan, has been appointed as the next Ambassador to Peru in succession to Mr R.V. Warjri.



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