Nirupama Subramanian

Shared stakes increased the chances of its success

  • Says Pakistan is also a victim of terror
  • India must give concrete proof on Mumbai blasts

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri on Thursday described the setting up of a joint mechanism on intelligence sharing to combat terrorism the single biggest achievement of the just-concluded talks between the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan.

    "The fact that they have been able to agree on a mechanism [is the single biggest achievement]. Both sides have expressed satisfaction. Considering the nature of our relations, bedevilled by constant friction, suspicion, tension and warfare, this is no mean achievement," Mr. Kasuri said at an impromptu interaction with journalists at the Foreign Ministry here.

    "Positive atmosphere"

    The resumption of the dialogue after a long hiatus and the "positive atmosphere" in which it was held were a "step forward," he said. "The [Pakistan] Foreign Secretary spoke to me today, gave me a comprehensive report [about the New Delhi talks] and I have reason to feel encouraged after the reports that he has given."

    Pakistan had as much interest in ensuring that the joint mechanism was a success because it was also a victim of terrorism. The shared stakes increased the chances of its success.

    Mr. Kasuri said: "As I said on earlier occasions, let us not be propagandistic; let us be realistic; let us go on a case by case basis. Let us try and pre-empt incidents by intelligence sharing. Incidents take place not just in India, they also take place in Pakistan. Pakistan has as much interest as India has in making this mechanism succeed.

    "So, therein lie the chances that this could be a success. Of course, it depends again on political will of both sides. So since there is reason for both of them both of them are victims of terrorism, so probably they would like to operate in the right spirit."

    A good start

    The agreement was "a good start" considering all "negative publicity" in the wake of the July Mumbai blasts. Pakistan had "taken note" of India's case that it was unable to present it with the evidence from the blasts on account of legal impediments, he said.

    But he did lace his comment with a Latin phrase that translates as "something speaking for itself."

    He added that whenever India gave Pakistan the evidence, "it has to be concrete, and we will follow up on that."

    Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who was the High Commissioner here, understood "Pakistani sensitivities," Mr. Kasuri said and expressed the hope that this would help in a better "two-way traffic in our understanding your perceptions and your sensitivities and your understanding our perceptions and our sensitivities."

    Prior to the talks, Mr. Kasuri had spoken of an "imminent" breakthrough on Siachen, an issue on which the Foreign Secretaries said differences still persisted. But the Foreign Minister said he stood by his words, and that a resolution was only as far away as "political will."

    Pranab visit

    He said the dates for the Pakistan visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee were being worked out. It was likely to take place in January.

    "Since it will be my first meeting, it will also be a getting-to-know-each-other meeting because you have to first build a level of trust. Mr. Mukherjee is an experienced politician and I would look forward to meeting with him and getting to know him better."