M A I N   N E W S

Anti-terror set-up in place
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
India-Pakistan peace process ventured into strategic areas as the two nuclear powers today agreed to set up a three-member anti-terror mechanism.
Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan, in response to a question from this correspondent, confirmed that the joint mechanism was “a two-way channel” as reported by The Tribune today.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon, at a separate press briefing, said after the birth of the joint mechanism the two sides will “certainly” sway away from making allegations and counter allegations and would try to settle their disputes at this forum only.

The move is significant because the joint mechanism will bring the two countries’ intelligence agencies directly in touch with each other in an institutionalised format, something which has never happened before.

The sense of the strategic establishment here is that “the real peace” between India and Pakistan cannot come about till the two countries’ intelligence agencies improve their trust quotient, which currently is in the minus.

Pakistan has agreed to this out-of-the-box idea from India, largely with Taliban in the west and separatists in the south, Pakistan hopes peace talks with India will shore up its eastern borders. The Joint Mechanism will be headed by Mr K.C. Singh, Additional Secretary (International Organisations) from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Mr Tariq Osman Haider, Additional Secretary (UN&EC) from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its mandate would be to consider counter terrorism measures, including those through the regular and timely sharing of information.

This is the most important outcome of the two-day Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level talks that concluded here today. The two sides came out with a three-page Joint Statement which enlisted some of the other important decisions as below:

The agreement on “Reducing the Risk from Accidents Relating to Nuclear Weapons” was initialled by the two sides.

Experts from both sides to hold a meeting on December 22-23 to decide on the coordinates for joint survey of Sir Creek and adjoining areas as well as to simultaneously conduct discussions on the maritime boundary. The joint survey will be completed by February, 2007.

All fishermen and prisoners of the other country, whose national status stands confirmed and who have completed their sentences, would be released by this Christmas.

The list of shrines under the 1974 Bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines to be expanded. The two Foreign Secretaries will meet in February, 2007, in Islamabad to launch the next round of the composite dialogue.

The Foreign Secretaries, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon (India) and Mr Riaz Muhamad Khan (Pakistan), reviewed the progress in the third round of the composite dialogue encompassing talks on Peace and Security.

They exchanged views on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in the spirit of the Havana Joint Press Statement to hold purposeful discussions and to build on convergences and narrow down divergences.

They agreed to fully implement measures to enhance interaction and cooperation across the LoC, including the early operationalisation of truck service for trade on agreed items.



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