Amit Baruah

It will be held on March 6

  • The meeting comes nearly four months after the mechanism was formed
  • Additional Secretary, External Affairs Ministry, to lead delegation

    NEW DELHI: The India-Pakistan joint anti-terrorism mechanism will hold its first meeting in Islamabad on March 6, the External Affairs Ministry announced on Tuesday. K.C. Singh, Additional Secretary (International Organisations) in the Ministry, will lead the three-member delegation.

    An official statement recalled that when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf met on September 16, 2006 in Havana, it was decided to institutionalise the mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations.

    Interestingly, the outgoing Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) chief, Hormis Tharakan, told a television channel on January 31 that the mechanism should be given a chance.

    Given that the other two members of the anti-terror mechanism, apart from Mr. K.C. Singh, are from the Intelligence Bureau and RAW, Mr. Tharakan's view from inside the Indian intelligence establishment is, clearly, of interest. (The Anti-terror Mechanism consists of three members on each side.)

    While naming Pakistan as the main source of terrorism in India, the former RAW boss wanted the mechanism to work.

    Great hope

    Well-wishers of the peace process have pinned a great deal of hope on the mechanism, which is a logical fall-out of the January 6, 2004 agreement in which Gen. Musharraf committed to New Delhi that he would not allow the use of Pakistani territory for terrorist acts against India. The mechanism itself was set up during the November 14-15, 2006 meeting of the Foreign Secretaries in New Delhi. The first meeting comes nearly four months after it was formed.

    To an unstarred question, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee informed the Rajya Sabha on November 23 that the mandate of the mechanism would be to consider counter-terrorism measures, including through regular and timely sharing of information.

    "The matter concerning cross-border links to the [July 2006] Mumbai blasts was raised with Pakistan during the Foreign Secretary talks. Evidence on Mumbai blasts has not been given to Pakistan as the relevant charge sheets are yet to be filed," Mr. Mukherjee added.

    Speaking at a joint press conference with Mr. Mukherjee in Islamabad on January 14, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri said that the anti-terror mechanism was in the interest of both countries as they had suffered at the hands of terrorists.

    "We are serious"

    "We do not wish to queer the pitch or the atmosphere by going into the details. It is to say, we recognise India's sensitivities and hopefully India recognises our sensitivities. If we are not serious, the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India would not have agreed to the creation of joint anti-terror mechanism in Havana. And if we were not serious, we would not have fixed the date for first meeting of anti-terror mechanism meeting," Mr. Kasuri stressed.

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