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Terror: India, Pak agree on 3 things
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
India and Pakistan today made conceptual progress on fighting terrorism together, but operational progress, if it comes about, is still in the womb of time. This in a nutshell sums up the outcome of the first-ever meeting of the Indo-Pak Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism (JTM) which concluded its two-day session in Islamabad today.

Conceptually, India and Pakistan decided on three things. One, they mutually agreed to increase the size of the body from three members, including the head (as decided earlier), to five members from each side. This was done to facilitate larger number of players on board for the sensitive talks. The current composition has two diplomats and three spy masters from each side.

Two, they agreed to have an institutionalised arrangement of quarterly meetings for exchanging specific information and helping investigations on either side related to terrorist acts. Three, they agreed that instead of finger-pointing in the event of a terror incident, the two would immediately get in touch with each other by using the JTM platform. Importantly, this could be done even during the inter-session period of JTM meetings.

Operationally, India presented evidence of the involvement of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in several high-profile terror incidents in India like Mumbai, Ayodhya and Bangalore. The Indian side also gave photographs, telephone numbers and addresses of some of the wanted terrorists in these incidents who were Pakistani nationals. India also provided information to Pakistan on several wanted men based in Pakistan against whom Interpol had issued red-corner alert notices.

On its part, Pakistan accused India of aiding and abetting terror acts in Baluchistan. Both sides agreed to disagree with each other on this crucial operational question.

A brief joint statement issued at the end of the formal talks said: “The two sides discussed the parameters of the anti-terrorism mechanism and agreed that specific information will be exchanged through the mechanism for (i) helping investigations on either side related to terrorist acts and (ii) prevention of violence and terrorist acts in the two countries.

“It was also agreed that while the mechanism would meet on a quarterly basis, any information which was required to be conveyed on priority basis would be immediately conveyed through the respective heads of the mechanism.”

The Pakistan delegation was led by Tariq Osman Hyder, additional secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Indian delegation was headed by K.C. Singh, additional secretary, Ministry of External Affairs.

Later, in his briefing on the JTM meeting, MEA spokesperson Navtej Sarna said no terrorist outfit or territory in India and Pakistan was kept out of the scope and ambit of the JTM. Asked to comment on reports that Pakistan had presented “evidence” on the alleged Indian role in Baluchistan and also the operation of Indian consulates in Afghanistan, Sarna said: “We will certainly see what they have presented. India has nothing to do with the developments in Baluchistan. 

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