Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Foreign Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that the India-Pakistan joint anti-terror mechanism will hold its first meeting on March 6 and 7 here, and hoped that as agreed by the Foreign Ministers of the two countries, officials would soon hold a meeting to discuss the Siachen issue.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told journalists that Pakistan hoped for an early meeting on Siachen to discuss the ideas exchanged on the issue.

Asked about killings by fake encounters in Kashmir, Ms. Aslam said according to some estimates, as many as 8,000 people were missing there.

Pointing out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had admitted that some excesses had been committed in Kashmir and his declaration that henceforth there would be zero tolerance of human rights violations, she said: "Pakistan expects implementation of this statement."

Invitation to Geelani

Replying to a question on a reported open invitation on Sunday from Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Ms. Aslam said Pakistan welcomed visits by Kashmiri leaders. The Prime Minister's invitation was in that context, she said.

"Pakistan hopes that he would be enabled to undertake this visit."

At the Kashmir Solidarity Day rally on Monday, the Jamaat-e-Islami played a taped message from Mr. Geelani. He said he could not take up the Jamaat's invitation to attend the meeting, as the Government of India had confiscated his passport.

But the tape was stopped and the meeting abruptly halted on account of the call for the evening prayers.