Washington: Intelligence agencies from India and Pakistan have started sharing information with each other on counter-terrorism, a significant development that has quietly been pushed by the Obama administration with some success this year.
Although there is a long way to go in intelligence sharing between India and Pakistan, given the trust deficit between the two South Asian neighbours, a small beginning, but significant one, in this regard was made during the Commonwealth Games in October and India visit of President Barack Obama in November.
The nature of information sharing is being kept a closely guarded secret because officials of the three countries want to keep this development away from pubic glare as they are afraid of the sensitivities about it in the sub-continent.
"Sharing of counter-terrorism intelligence information between the intelligence agencies of India and Pakistan has started," a Pakistani diplomatic source based in Washington said on condition of anonymity.
Without going into details, the diplomat said the Pakistani intelligence agency provided all the information that was asked for by India during both the Commonwealth Games and the Obama visit and noted that the United States has been a part and parcel of this information sharing.
"This is a new beginning," a senior administration official said, hoping that such a development would be of great help in this war against terrorism.
It is well known that the Obama administration has been pushing both India and Pakistan to co-operate in the war against terrorism; but it has always put the onus for this on Pakistan; which is considered a nerve centre of terrorism.
Both the administrative official and diplomatic sources acknowledged that there is a huge trust deficit between the intelligence agencies of the two countries and they are taking one step at a time in this regard.
However, they exuded confidence that once the process has begun it would continue.
India, which has had a very bitter experience in the past, is understandably adopting a very cautious approach as for the information being received from the Inter Services Intelligence; which is simultaneously being shared with the CIA too, officials said.
But the Obama administration is believed to be satisfied with the progress.
CIA director Leon Panetta is understood to have personally praised ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha for having agreed to the share intelligence information they have with Indian intelligence agencies so as to prevent any major terrorist attack.
This close door meeting is believed to have been held recently in Washington which was attended by the new head of Afghan intelligence agency.
During the meeting, the three intelligence chiefs agreed to bring India on board which they consider to be essential for being part of this war against terrorism.
At the same time, US officials tend to sympathise with India`s contention that sharing any information with Pakistan is not safe as has experience from the past that such information would land up in the hands of key terrorist leaders.
The United States, CIA in particular has the similar bitter experience.
Pakistani diplomatic sources conceded that there have been mistakes in the past, but argued that Pakistan under a civilian rule is different.
"Both the Army and ISI are determined to take action against all kind of terrorist. It is only a matter of time. There is going to be no discrimination between good and bad terrorist. But Pakistan has to be given some time to prove its point," the diplomat said.