Islamabad, June 24: India today told Pakistan that the complex issue of Kashmir cannot be resolved under the “shadow of gun and extremist violence” as the two sides agreed on various confidence building measures (CBMs) during their two-day “substantive and constructive” talks.
“There is no place for the ideology of military conflict,” Islamabad was told as Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao wound up her 2-day talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir here.
India raised its concerns over the slow pace of trial of Mumbai terror attack accused and “worrisome aspects” of terror links of ISI, as revealed in the trial of Pakistani-Canadian terrorist Tahawwur Rana in Chicago.
With “realistic expectations”, the two sides ended the talks on a positive note, paving the way for discussions between Foreign Ministers of the two countries in New Delhi next month. They also discussed conventional and nuclear CBMs.
Addressing a joint press conference with Bashir, Rao said, “We have been fully conscious of the complexities of our relationship and the consequent need to take incremental steps to promote mutual confidence and understanding.”
“The shadow of the gun and the violence it has unleashed has caused untold sufferings on our people in these years past. This needs to end, Rao said, adding “the ideology of military conflict should have no place in the paradigm of our relationship of the 21st century.”
Asked about the issue of resolution of the Kashmir issue, she said, “We have to build peace and reconciliation step by step... We must do away with shadow of the gun and extremist violence and then only in atmosphere free of terror and violence that we can discuss resolution of such a complex issue.”
Both Rao and Bashir noted that there were stated positions on Kashmir and by discussing it no-one has changed that. The effort was to move forward to put in more CBMs in cross LoC trade and travel, they said.
Officials observed that there was an “excellent chemistry” between the two sides during their series of meetings dealing with three segments----Peace and Security, including CBMs, Jammu and Kashmir and Promotion of Friendly Exchanges.
“In our discussions, we were guided by the vision of our two Prime Ministers to build trust and confidence by discussing various issues in an open and constructive spirit and in a forward looking manner,” Rao said.
Replying to a question to whether India raised the issue of 26/11 probe and trial in Pakistan, she said “obviously the issue is of critical importance (to India).”
She said the issue has been discussed at Home Secretary level meetings and she followed it up.
Bashir also said Pakistan understands concerns in India on Mumbai attack issue but added that terrorism in generic sense poses threat to both the countries. “It needed to be eliminated in a collaborative approach,” he said.
However, officials maintained that the aim was to raise India's concerns about terror and to “extract further confessions” from the Pakistani side.
The Joint Statement also said the Foreign Secretaries exchanged views on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and agreed to continue discussions in a “purposeful and forward looking manner with the view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences”.
Referring to cross-LoC CBMs, Bashir said that these were aimed at creating “more comfort and relief” to Jammu and Kashmir.
“The talks we have held this time were not an event in isolation, but part of a dialogue process, which aims at building greater trust between us”, Rao said.
Various nuclear and conventional CBMs were also discussed during the talks with both sides agreeing to convene separate expert-level meetings on these subjects to strengthen the existing arrangements and consider additional measures later this year which will report back to the Foreign Secretaries about the progress on the issue.
Both sides agreed to convene a meeting of the Working Group on Cross-LoC CBMs to recommend measures for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements across the LoC and propose modalities for introducing additional Cross-LoC CBMs. The group will meet next month.
Recognising that terrorism poses a continuing threat to peace and security, they reiterated the firm and undiluted commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate this scourge in all its forms and manifestations.
“They agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism,” the joint statement said.
Rao also said the “unleashing of violence” should end as “military conflict” has no space in 21st century. It should be replaced by a “vocabulary of peace” for resolution of issues in an atmosphere “free from terror and violence”.
Bashir said the two sides made their “well-known” positions on the Kashmir issue, nonetheless they agreed to continue discussions to find a common ground. It did not mean that anybody has changed the position, he said.
“We have tried to move forward,” he added. To a question on the Samjhauta blast case, Rao said India has promised to “share the outcome” once the investigations are over.
The joint statement said the two countries also discussed measures for promoting cooperation in various fields including, facilitating visits to religious shrines, media exchanges, holding of sports tournaments and cessation of hostile propaganda against each other.
Rao said the two sides discussed all aspects of cross-LoC CBMs including the number of trading days and points, banking facilities and more transport linkages.
The two countries also agreed to the need for promoting friendly exchanges between the two countries. They noted with satisfaction the progress made towards finalisation of the Visa Agreement which will help liberalise the visa regime and facilitate people-to-people, business-to-business and sports contacts.
The joint statement said the Foreign Secretaries will meet again in New Delhi on a date to be decided through diplomatic channels to prepare for the meeting of the Foreign Ministers.
Both sides agreed to the need for promoting friendly exchanges between the two countries.
“They noted with satisfaction the progress made towards finalisation of the Visa Agreement which will help liberalise the visa regime and facilitate people-to-people, business-to-business and sports contacts,” it said.
The Foreign Secretaries agreed that people of the two countries are at the heart of the relationship and that humanitarian issues should be accorded priority and treated with sensitivity. PTI