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Updated: March 30, 2011 02:31 IST

26/11 probe: Pak agrees to Indian panel's visit

Vinay Kumar
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Pakistani Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman (right) with Home Secretary G.K. Pillai in New Delhi. During their meeting which ended today, Pakistan has agreed to allow Indian team to visit Islamabad to investigate Mumbai attacks case.
Pakistani Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman (right) with Home Secretary G.K. Pillai in New Delhi. During their meeting which ended today, Pakistan has agreed to allow Indian team to visit Islamabad to investigate Mumbai attacks case.

In a positive development on the eve of the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries, Pakistan on Tuesday agreed, in principle, to allow a Commission from India to visit that country in connection with 26/11 Mumbai terror attack investigations.

Giving up its reluctance in permitting Indian investigators to set their feet on its territory with respect to the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike probe, Pakistan expressed its readiness, based upon the principle of comity and reciprocity, to entertain an Indian Commission in connection with the ongoing investigations into the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in India’s financial capital.

"Modalities and composition in this connection will be worked out through diplomatic channels," a joint statement issued at the end of two-day Home Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan said here. The two sides agreed to set up a hotline between Indian Home Secretary and Interior Secretary of Pakistan to facilitate real time information sharing with respect to terrorist threats.

Similarly, dates for the visit of the Judicial Commission from Pakistan in connection with Mumbai attack trial will be conveyed by India within four to six weeks. National Investigation Agency (NIA) in India and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan will continue to cooperate in the Mumbai terror attack investigations, the statement noted.

The Indian delegation at the talks was led by Home Secretary Gopal K. Pillai while the Pakistani delegation was headed by Qamar Zaman Chaudhary, Interior Secretary of that country. The two sides took forward the dialogue process on several issues. Pakistani side provided updates on the ongoing trial and investigation in Pakistan on the Mumbai terror attacks.

The statement reiterated the commitment of the two sides to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirmed the need to bring those responsible for such crimes to justice.

"The meeting was extremely positive. It had moved forward in reducing trust deficit [between the two countries] significantly," Mr. Pillai said after the meeting.

The joint-statement flagged various areas of cooperation including countering drug and human trafficking, streamlining visa procedure, fake currency, cyber crimes and maritime cooperation.

India provided information on the ongoing Samjhauta Express blast case probe. It was also agreed that after filing the report in the court, updated information will be shared with the Pakistani authorities.

On the issue of providing to India the voice samples of alleged masterminds of the attack, sources said Pakistan officials have said that a lower court had rejected their case in this regard. An appeal has been filed with the High Court and a positive outcome was expected, Indian delegation was told.

The joint statement said both the sides agreed to set up a joint working group to examine the modalities for streamlining the visa procedure and for giving a final shape to revision of the visa agreement.

Official sources indicated that a proposal has been put forth to relax norms for issuance of visa to journalists, businessmen, senior citizens and patients coming for medical treatment.

The Indian side also proposed to relax norms for people who have a valid visa and want to travel again within the span of two years by removing time-consuming security background check process which is done from here.

The Indian High Commission in Pakistan will be empowered to issue necessary permissions to such travellers, the sources said. The delegations also exchanged views on the decisions taken in the last round of Talks held in Islamabad in 2008.

"It was agreed that it was important for both sides to remain engaged on outstanding issues and henceforth the Home/Interior Secretary-level talks would be held bi-annually," the statement said.

Both sides welcomed the release of prisoners and fishermen by each other since the last round of talks. It was agreed that both sides would release by April 15 those civilian prisoners/fishermen who have completed their sentence and whose nationality status has been confirmed by the respective governments and whose travel documents have been received. A complete list of prisoners in each other’s custody will be exchanged on July 1, 2011, the statement said.

Both sides agreed that the problem and issues of the inadvertent crossers should be viewed sympathetically, in a focussed and sensitive manner. Commending the work of the Judicial Committee on Prisoners for the release, repatriation and humane treatment of prisoners, both sides agreed for its continuation. The next meeting of the Judicial Committee will be held from April 19 to 23 in Pakistan.

"Both sides also agreed to task the Coast Guard of India and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency to work on setting up a mechanism for release of inadvertent crossers (fishermen) and their boats on the same lines as the inadvertent crossers on land," the statement said. The group will submit report before next round of talks.

It was decided that Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and FIA of Pakistan will meet to work out the technical details of moving forward on issues of human trafficking, counterfeit currency, cyber crimes and Red Corner Notices (RCNs).

The Indian side is learnt to have raised the issue of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Sayeed's anti-India statements, activities of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and other terrorists in which the Pakistani side promised to do the needful.

Mr. Pillai accepted the invitation by his Pakistani counterpart for the next round of Home Secretary level talks to be held in Pakistan. Both sides agreed that the visit of the Interior Minister of Pakistan to India will take place on mutually convenient dates, to be decided through diplomatic channels.

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