Pak reluctant to discuss ISI issues with India

Islamabad: Pakistan was on Thursday dismissive of India's attempts to raise fresh evidence of ISI's links to the 26/11 attacks at the upcoming Foreign Secretary-level talks, stating clearly that the agenda would be limited to three issues -- Kashmir, peace and security and friendly exchanges.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua told a weekly news briefing that Islamabad was in communication with New Delhi to firm up dates for Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao's visit to Pakistan later this month for talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir.

Asked if Pakistan would be open to discussing fresh evidence on the Mumbai attacks during the Foreign Secretary-level talks, Janjua said the agenda for the upcoming meeting "is very clearly the three (issues) that have been indicated" peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir and friendly exchanges.

Counter-terrorism issues have already been discussed during a meeting of the Interior and Home Secretaries held earlier this year, she said.

"Whatever India provides us as fresh evidence or as information is sent to the Interior Ministry, which examines it based on ground realities," she said.

Responding to an Indian move to focus on fresh evidence linking the ISI to the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan's Foreign Office yesterday said it was imperative to address the "core issue" of Kashmir in the upcoming dialogue.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said on Monday that the nexus between the ISI and the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks, highlighted during Tahawwur Rana's recent trial in Chicago, will be taken up during the forthcoming talks.

Responding to a question, Janjua said Pakistan is "desirous of a purposeful and result-oriented dialogue with India for sustainable peace and development in South Asia".

Pakistan has had a "very substantive engagement" with India since the dialogue process was revived earlier this year, she added.

"The most important thing is that the governments of India and Pakistan have agreed that the only way forward is through dialogue and that is a very substantive point of progress within the region," Janjua said.

The government and leadership of Pakistan have clearly stated that peace between the two countries is critical for development in the region, she said.

"For that, we need to have a substantive dialogue with India on all issues and... those discussions are on track," Janjua said.

Confidence-building measures currently being implemented by the two countries in Kashmir require a review, she said.

The Foreign Secretary-level talks will carry out a review of the CBMs and "see what are the possibilities", she added.

Asked about possible American mediation between the two countries, she replied: "Our discussions are ongoing. We appreciate the US encouragement to both sides in this regard.

"As far as Pakistan and India are concerned, we are on track with regard to the dialogue process."

In response to another question on the Indian investigation into the 2007 Samjhauta Express train bombing that killed nearly 70 people, including 42 Pakistanis, Janjua said Islamabad is awaiting an update from New Delhi on the probe.