Nirupama Subramanian

No official response from Pakistan to India’s charge

ISLAMABAD: India’s charge of ISI involvement in the Kabul embassy attack is likely to come up when the Indian and Pakistan Foreign Secretaries meet next week in New Delhi to open the fifth round of the composite dialogue process.

Earlier this week, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said India had “pretty good evidence” to link the ISI to the Kabul bombing in which four Indians were among 60 killed.

Official sources here said the meeting between Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and his Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir was “the most likely forum” at which India might raise the issue.

India has meanwhile cancelled a meeting between the heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation and Pakistan’s Federal Investigations Authority.

The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, and CBI chief Vijay Shankar was to travel to Islamabad for it.

No reason has officially been given for the abrupt cancellation, but it is being linked widely to India’s charge of the ISI involvement in the Kabul attack.

Indian officials here refused to confirm the speculation, pointing out instead that the more important fifth round of the composite dialogue process was scheduled to be inaugurated as planned by the two foreign secretaries next week.

Before that, a meeting on cross-Line of Control confidence building measures is to be held here on July 18. It was to have taken place last week but was postponed as the official nominated to lead the Indian team had to rush to Kabul in the wake of the blast.

Diplomatic sources here said India needed to keep its lines of communication open in Pakistan with those “on the same side as itself,” who did not want their country “involved in this mess”.

They said it was significant that the Indian National Security Adviser had made a point of underlining that New Delhi was in talks with the Pakistan government and not the ISI.

The statement, they said, appeared to deliberately emphasise that the ISI was not the same as the government and implied that it may even be acting to undermine the peace process between the two governments.

Interestingly, Pakistan has not yet responded officially to India’s charge against the ISI. The Foreign Ministry has been silent on the allegation. Instead, a denial came from Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, who described the charge as “inappropriate” and “baseless,” but at the same time said it would have no impact on the India-Pakistan peace process.

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