Pak for concrete steps to bridge trust deficit with India

Pakistan wants to firm up Confidence Building Measures at the upcoming foreign secretary level talks with India as a top official on Thursday said Islamabad was looking for concrete steps to bridge the trust deficit.

Last Updated: Jun 17, 2010, 19:01 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan wants to firm up
Confidence Building Measures at the upcoming foreign secretary
level talks with India as a top official on Thursday said Islamabad
was looking for concrete steps to bridge the trust deficit.

With hardly a week to go for talks to be held here, an
official spokesman said Pakistan was "keenly looking" forward
to the dialogue and lessening of tension.
"Pakistan has always been promoting the cause of peace
and stability in South Asia and we are keenly looking forward
to our engagement with India with a view to promoting this
cause in the interest of peace and prosperity in our region,"
Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly briefing.

"We hope that this engagement should be a sustained
and purposeful engagement (and it) should address all these
issues so that we bridge this trust deficit," he said.

Pakistan is approaching the "resumed engagement with
a positive mindset" with the "hope that this leads to results
which are in our mutual interest and result in long-term
benefits to the people of Pakistan and India," Basit said.

His comments came as diplomatic sources said that
Islamabad had broadly classified the issues to be raised
during the meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries in Islamabad
on June 24.

These include Kashmir issue, humanitarian matters like
the release of prisoners and fishermen, terrorism and trade
and commerce.

An inter-ministerial meeting chaired by the Foreign
Minister was held yesterday and another session is in the
offing to formulate recommendations for the Pakistani
leadership.
Representatives of the military establishment,
including the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, attended the
meeting.

The sources said there are indications that the
Pakistani side could ask for the withdrawal of the Armed
Forces (Special Powers) Act and the release of political
prisoners to improve the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir
when Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir meets his Indian
counterpart Nirupama Rao.

The sources also said there is a realisation at the
highest levels of the Foreign Office of the need to lower
tensions in the region while at the same time preventing any
further deterioration of bilateral relations.

In this regard, the two sides are expected to discuss
ways to improve cooperation in countering terrorism. Islamabad
also wants to upgrade the existing Joint Anti-Terrorism
Mechanism (JATM), which was set up in 2006.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani spoke of the need to
reactivate the JATM earlier this month and Pakistani officials
now believe intelligence agencies should be represented in
this body, the sources said.

However, the Foreign Office appears to be undecided on
how to respond to India`s call for firm action against
anti-India groups like Lashker-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed
and militant leaders like LeT founder and Jamaat-ud-Dawah
chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
Despite several dossiers provided by India on Saeed,
Pakistani leaders like Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi
and Interior Minister Rehman Malik have contended there isn`t
enough evidence to act against the JuD chief.

In the run-up to the meeting of the Foreign
Secretaries, the government has been given the go-ahead by
parliament`s standing committee on national security to take
"difficult decisions" to normalise ties with India, the Dawn
newspaper reported today.

The advice from the parliamentary panel was part of
eight recommendations made by it for the forthcoming meetings
of the Foreign Secretaries, Interior Ministers and Foreign
Ministers.

Home Minister P Chidambram will meet Interior Minister
Rahman Malik on the sidelines of a SAARC minister`s meeting in
Islamabad on June 26 while a meeting of Foreign Ministers is
slated for July 15.

The standing committee on national security said
tough decisions are necessitated due to the changing global
scenario.

However, it said all such decisions should be in
conformity with Pakistan`s long-standing stance on issues like
Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and sharing of river waters.
The committee asked the Foreign Office to rethink
policies for relations with India and to dovetail them with
Pakistan`s long-term strategic objectives.

Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh,
during their meeting on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in
April, tasked the Foreign Secretaries to find ways to bridge
the trust deficit between the two countries and to finalise
the agenda for the meeting of the Foreign Ministers.

Foreign Minister Qureshi yesterday chaired an
inter-ministerial meeting at the Foreign Office to prepare for
the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of
the military establishment, including the Inter-Services
Intelligence.

PTI