India and Pakistan barely managed to hold on to an 18-month tacit agreement of not getting into a cycle of recriminations when External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna turned down media prodding to respond to Pakistan Senior Adviser on Interior Rehman Malik’s defence of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

“We do not want to get into some kind of a slanging match with any distinguished person from Pakistan. Well, our efforts are directed towards a constructive, cooperative agenda,’’ Mr. Krishna said when journalists buttonholed him after he inaugurated the first-ever conference on Afghanistan hosted by India on Thursday.

“I think mutual recrimination has to cease and we will have to look at the brighter side that is available for both Pakistan and India,” he said when reporters drew his attention to Mr. Malik “rejecting” Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s charge of the Mumbai attackers having state support.

It was in Thimphu in February last year that the then Foreign Secretaries Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir (currently Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India) agreed to begin talks on all contentious subjects in an atmosphere that is free from the blame-counter blame.

Mr. Krishna welcomed the release of Surjeet Singh and once again called on Pakistan to “seriously ponder and consider” setting free Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row. “I am happy that Surjeet Singh is being released and I hope that Pakistan will also seriously ponder and consider and release Sarabjit Singh also,” he said.

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