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India, Pakistan share fresh info on terror incidents

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
June 24, 2008 20:59 IST
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India and Pakistan on Tuesday shared fresh information on terrorist incidents and agreed to continue assisting each other in investigating and preventing such acts during the third meeting of the Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism in Islamabad.

The two countries "agreed to continue to work to identify counter-terrorism measures, assist in investigations through exchange of specific information and for preventing violence and terrorist acts," said a brief joint statement issued after the meeting.

Counter-terrorism experts of the two sides also reviewed follow-up steps taken on the information shared during the earlier meetings of the Joint-Anti Terrorism Mechanism. Reports had suggested that Pakistan would seek information on the bombing of the Samjhauta Express trans-border train in February last year that killed nearly 70 people, most of them Pakistanis.

It was also expected that the Indian side would take up recent bomb attacks in Jaipur and Ajmer. Both Indian and Pakistani officials were tight-lipped about the discussions at Tuesday's meeting and refused to give any details. However, Pakistani official sources described the discussions as "positive". Sources indicated that both sides had decided not to share details of their discussions with the media.

The Pakistani delegation was led by Masood Khalid, Additional Secretary (Asia and Pacific) in Foreign Ministry while the Indian side was headed by Vivek Katju, Additional Secretary (Political and International Organisations) in the Ministry of External Affairs. The Indian delegation also called on acting Foreign Secretary Khalid Aziz Babar.

This was the third meeting of the Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism, which was set up in line with a decision taken during a meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Havana in September 2006.

During a meeting in Islamabad, in May to resume the bilateral composite dialogue process, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed their commitment to "fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations" and "re-emphasised the need for effective steps for the complete elimination of this menace". Countering terrorism and drug trafficking is one of the eight issues included in the composite dialogue.

During their meeting on May 21, Mukherjee and Qureshi also "reaffirmed their determination not to let terrorism impede the peace process".

Though India and Pakistan had agreed that the Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism would meet on a quarterly basis, this has not happened so far. The first meeting of the Mechanism was held in Islamabad on March 6, 2007 and its second meeting took place in New Delhi on October 23 the same year.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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