The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan wrapped up their two-day engagement on Thursday with no tangible outcome although both reiterated their commitment to fight terror and Islamabad even offered a joint probe into the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Remaining true to their 18-month resolve of not displaying rancour towards each other in public, both delegations refrained from speaking about the internal deliberations except to say that another meeting between the Foreign Secretaries will set the tone for the ministerial meeting in Islamabad in September.
At the joint interaction, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said the ongoing interrogation of Abu Jundal had added “urgency” to the need for Pakistan to act against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
“I emphasised that terrorism was the biggest threat to peace and security in the region and bringing the guilty in the Mumbai attacks to justice would be the biggest CBM [confidence building measure] of all .... The ongoing interrogation of Jundal has now added urgency to the matter,” he said.
Mr. Mathai had taken up the issue with his Pakistani counterpart and shared information with him.
“We will continue to pursue this matter with determination to its logical conclusion,” he said.
Responding to a query on Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s statement that Jundal had revealed the involvement of Pakistani government personnel in the Mumbai attacks, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani “very strongly” rejected “any insinuation of any involvement of any state agency in any acts of terrorism in India.”
He wanted India to share all evidence gathered so far with Pakistan and promised to investigate the matter. Pakistan was open to “a joint investigation” into the entire incident. He did not think Jundal’s “confession” would impact the bilateral ties in other areas, especially trade, on which both sides had recently made considerable progress.
Jundal’s reference came under the rubric of ‘peace and security, including CBMs,’ which is among the three subjects that the Foreign Secretaries are mandated to discuss under the ‘resumed dialogue process.’ The other two subjects are Jammu and Kashmir and friendly exchanges.
The Foreign Secretaries agreed to convene separate meetings of the expert-level Working Group on Nuclear and Conventional CBMs within a fortnight as also hold an official-level interaction on cross-Line of Control Intra-Kashmir CBMs.
Both officials provided a middle-of-the-road assessment of their talks and the preceding line Ministry-level interaction.