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Krishna heads to Pakistan, India’s focus on terror

New Delhi, July 13 (Calcutta Tube) A day before External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna heads to Islamabad, India Tuesday decided to mainly focus the talks on terrorism, which it says is sponsored by Pakistan.

At the same time, the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also vowed to find a way to keep limited dialogue going on humanitarian issues to build bilateral trust.

Krishna will leave for Islamabad Wednesday for three days, the first visit by an Indian foreign minister to Pakistan since the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack that plunged bilateral ties to an all-time low.

The Committee, comprising Krishna, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Home Minister P. Chidambaram, met at the prime minister’s residence. On the agenda was India’s approach towards the Thursday talks between Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, official sources said.

The Committee, the apex decision-making body on security issues, reviewed the talks between the foreign secretaries and home ministers of the two countries last month.

It took note of Pakistan’s reassurance about speedily concluding the Mumbai attack trial and taking action against terrorist groups that continue to operate from Pakistani territory.

New Delhi feels that no tangible action has been taken by Islamabad to address India’s concerns despite last month’s talks.

But both governments realise the value of reducing the trust deficit, without which a conducive atmosphere cannot be created for resolving the more difficult issues like Jammu and Kashmir and the Siachen glacier.

India is expected to impress upon Pakistan that it will be difficult to carry on any meaningful dialogue further till Pakistan takes credible, effective and transparent action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack that left 166 people dead.

He will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Y.K. Sinha, the joint secretary in charge of Pakistan, and senior officials.

Krishna will hold wide-ranging talks with Qureshi so as to pave the way for a more substantive dialogue in the future.

India is keen that the talks should yield positive outcomes, including on relaxation of the visa regime, people-to-people contacts, more trade, cross-border trains and buses, as well as exchange of prisoners.

However, India’s core concern will be terrorism that it says emanates from Pakistani territory, with the terror infrastructure often used to target Indian interests in India and beyond.

India will have no objection if Pakistan takes up Jammu and Kashmir or the row of water sharing.

India sees that Pakistan has not taken any tangible action against Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the Mumbai attack and head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba despite promises to act against anti-India terror elements.

There are some in the Indian security establishment who suspect a link between the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, on the eve of Krishna’s trip, and elements across the border.

Afghanistan too could figure in the discussions but it will be mostly in the context of India’s threat perception to its missions and personnel who work there.

The government’s view is that while dialogue and terror can’t go hand in hand, it is important to keep talking with Pakistan as it is showing more flexibility in accommodating India’s concerns, a member of the parliament’s standing committee on external affairs ministry told IANS.

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