Against the backdrop of the demand by the main Opposition in India for scrapping of the joint anti-terror mechanism, Pakistan has said New Delhi should not insist on tracing terrorists named in the past lists and both countries should take the mechanism seriously.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said the anti-terror mechanism should not be used as a forum for 'just trading insults' and talking about issues like handing over of the list of wanted people in the past could weaken the initiative.
"Past has to be forgotten by both India and Pakistan. If every time we talk about having given a list 20 years back or 35 years ago, then it will become a forum for photo-op and its potential will be lost," Kasuri told PTI in an interview in Islamabad.
Although he did not elaborate, he was apparently referring to India's contention that it had given Pakistan a list of wanted men seeking their deportation.
At the recent meeting, India added names of six more such wanted persons, raising the number to 35.
"We have not said we will not consider cases of the past. But it is important to make the mechanism successful. One way to make it successful is to use it as an effective forum for exchange of intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks in the future," the Pakistan foreign minister said.
"The more we talk of the past, more we posture and more we take away the potential of the mechanism," he said in the interview.
Kasuri said terrorism was hurting both India and Pakistan and so the two countries need to take the mechanism seriously and 'not just trade insults.'
This assumes significance considering that Islamabad has told New Delhi at the first meeting of counter-terrorism panel last week that violence in Jammu and Kashmir should be kept away from the anti-terror mechanism as it does not recognise the state as part of India.
Referring to the first meeting of the anti-terror mechanism in Islamabad on March 6-7, Kasuri said it was a significant development in itself considering the history of relations between the two countries.
"There is absence of trust (between the two countries) and amid this the meeting took place. If we compare the situation a few years back when there was troop mobilisation, the meeting of the anti-terror mechanism in itself is a positive development," the Pakistani minister said.
He maintained that the meeting had prepared the ground for increasing trust between the two countries as both the countries want to control terrorism. He said there are people who try to subvert improvement of relations between the two neighbours and they are both in India and Pakistan and could be Muslims or Hindus.
"Some people are there who feel peace is not in their favour. They are not only in Pakistan but India also. They are Hindus, Muslims, Pakistanis and Indians," Kasuri said.
"When relations between India and Pakistan improve, those wanting to exploit the bad situation will find no ground to operate. So the mechanism can become successful when we resolve disputes," Kasuri said, adding, "There is fear that unless we resolve our disputes, something may go wrong."
He cautioned that no allegations should be levelled because of 'pre-conceived' notions.
"There should be no levelling of allegations that so and so is responsible, as happens as soon as an incident (of terror) takes place. Such things will lend a setback to the mechanism," he said.
At the anti-terror mechanism meeting, Pakistan also handed over some photographs to India, saying it was proof of New Delhi's help to nationalist rebels in Baluchistan. The photographs include those showing some officials of Indian High Commission in London attending a conference organised by Baluch nationalist rebels there.
India has said this hardly could be any evidence of supporting any movement. Denying that the material provided by Pakistan is 'flimsy,' Kasuri said Pakistan takes the mechanism seriously.
"We have to fight terrorism to rid the country of poverty. We need to create environment of peace and stability in the region to end poverty."