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Indo-Pak deal on terror
Joint mechanism will be a small body with Additional Secys as group heads
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 14
India and Pakistan today reached a major breakthrough when they decided on broad contours of a joint mechanism on combating terrorism. The mechanism will be announced tomorrow.

The breakthrough, arrived at the Foreign Secretary-level talks here, will be in the spirit of Havana Joint Statement where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had agreed to put in place a joint mechanism to address terrorism-related issue.

The joint mechanism will be a small body and thus more effective. An Additional Secretary will head each side’s group. Both sides are keen that the first meeting of the joint mechanism should be held at the earliest. Further talks on the issue will be held tomorrow.

Pakistan has made it clear that it will be “a two- way mechanism”, meaning that both sides will be sharing intelligence and terrorism-related information. Islamabad has stressed that while India expected the Pakistan Government to help reduce the terror quotient by tackling groups “allegedly” operating from Pakistan, the Pakistan Government also expected New Delhi to help in tackling the Baluchistan situation.

What it means in effect is that Pakistan’s help in curbing terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India will be predicated on India adopting a hands-of approach with regards to Baluchistan. It is also a tactical recognition from Pakistan that India can make things difficult for them in Baluchistan.

Pakistans foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said Pakistan had a joint mechanism to combat terrorism with several countries and her country was happy to have a similar arrangement with India. She insisted that it would be “A two-way mechanism”.

Indian foreign office spokesman Navtej Sarna said the two sides discussed all issues, including J&K and terrorism, and reviewed the entire gamut of confidence-building measures already on the table.

Earlier in the day the two secretaries reviewed the third round of composite dialogue process that concluded in June.

Mr Khan called on External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the afternoon. During his interaction, Mr Mukherjee underlined the need to bring people of the two countries closer.

The Pakistani Foreign Secretary in the evening brokered peace among various factions of the Hurriyat. Among the Hurriyat leaders whom Mr Khan met included Mr Abdul Ghani Bhat, Mr Yaseen Malik, Mr Shabir Shah and hardliner Ali Shah Gilani.



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