M A I N   N E W S

Pak to probe embassy attack
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

Colombo, August 2
Yielding to intense pressure from the international community, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today agreed to hold an 'independent investigation' into the July 7 suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in which more than 50 people, including 4 Indians, were killed. He conveyed this to Manmohan Singh at a meeting the two leaders had today on the margins of the 15th SAARC Summit.

Gilani told Manmohan Singh that he would also meet Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai tomorrow to ask him if he could share any information with the Pakistani authorities on the audacious attack that has hit the composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan.

Karzai and the Indian authorities had accused Pakistan's ISI of masterminding the blast. Subsequently, even the US and other countries blamed the Pakistani intelligence agency for the incident. However, Pakistan has vehemently denied the charge.

Manmohan Singh did some plain speaking at the meeting with Gilani, conveying in unequivocal terms that the peace process had come under stress due to recent events, like the blast in Kabul, ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops and increased infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC).

Briefing reporters on what was described as a 'frank and candid' meeting, foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said the two Prime Ministers expressed their determination to overcome the recent events to put the peace process back on the track.

Gilani, who would not have expected a mild-mannered Manmohan Singh to be so blunt, told the Indian Prime Minister that the ceasefire, in effect since November 2003, was the biggest confidence building measure (CBM) between the two countries and every effort should be made to see it was not violated.

The Pakistani premier pointed out to Manmohan Singh that all parties in Pakistan desired improvement in relations with India. To this, the Indian leader said his government had made every attempt in this direction in the last four years but the atmosphere had been vitiated in recent days.

Indian officials said it was a 'candid and open' conversation between two people who wanted to see a way forward in this situation in which the relations between their two countries were deteriorating.

Asked if the serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad had also figured during the meeting, the foreign secretary said “They were not mentioned with the kind of specificity that we have about the Kabul blast.”

Manmohan also had bilateral meetings with Bangladesh chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed and Bhutan PM Jigmi Y. Thinley. He was told that elections in Bangladesh would be held by December.



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