New Delhi: Ahead of their forthcoming talks to reduce the "trust deficit", India has asked Pakistan to stop using terrorist groups "selectively as strategic assets" and advocated a "creative solution" to complex issues like Jammu and Kashmir.
"Terrorism as a continuation of war by other means, and the use of terrorist groups selectively, as strategic assets against India, cannot and must not continue," said Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao ahead of the talks between home ministers of the two countries June 26. Home Minister P. Chidambaram is to travel to Pakistan to attend the SAARC Home Ministers conference on June 26.
"As an intrinsic part of the long-term vision of relations it desires with India, Pakistan must act effectively against those terrorist groups that seek to nullify and, to destroy the prospects of peace and cooperation between our two countries," she said.
Rao is expected to travel to Islamabad June 25 and meet her counterpart Salman Bashir to lay the groundwork for the talks between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi July 15.
Outlining India`s approach, Rao stressed that India was ready to address all issues of mutual concern through dialogue and peaceful negotiations for bridging the trust deficit between the two countries.
Putting India`s concerns over cross-border terror at the heart of India`s re-engagement with Pakistan, Rao underlined the persistent threat of terrorism and said that "dialogue can best progress in an atmosphere free from terrorism".
"Most terrorist attacks in India and elsewhere have their origin in our region. Every terrorist attack, including the one in Mumbai, hardens Indian public opinion, making our task more difficult," Rao said during a speech at the Afghanistan-India-Pakistan ‘Trialogue’ held by Delhi Policy Group on Sunday.
Rao also hinted at India`s willingness to consider "creative solutions" to vexed issues like Jammu and Kashmir that has shadowed relations between the two countries.
"On Jammu & Kashmir, progress was made based on the common understanding that boundaries could not be redrawn but we could work towards making them irrelevant; and people on both sides of the LoC should be able to move freely and trade with one another," she said.
"On the way forward, we have to build on these achievements. We also have to reaffirm the progress made through complex negotiations and dialogue through patient and unsung effort whether in the composite dialogue or back channel diplomacy, during this period. We must seek creative solutions," she said.
Rao exhorted Pakistan to "shed its insecurity" on asymmetries in sizes and capabilities between the two countries, including the strategic advantage gained after the India-US nuclear deal.
Rao warned Pakistan against "the entry of radical ideology into the domain of religion, and, the consequent implications for peace and security between India and Pakistan, making differences over Kashmir even more difficult."
"We want to see a peaceful, stable, energy-secure and prosperous Pakistan that acts as a bulwark against terrorism for its own sake and for the good of the region," said Rao. "Asymmetries in size and development should not prevent us from working together, building complementarities, and realising a vision of friendly, bilateral relations," she added.
Rao also made it clear that India neither sees Afghanistan as a battleground for competing national interests nor assistance to Afghan reconstruction and development as a zero sum game.
"There is a trust deficit. Some also refer to a vision deficit, especially since India has over the years sought to spell out a broader vision of our relationship while a similar definition has not been easy for Pakistan to enunciate," Rao said.