NATIONAL

Durrani to focus on joint anti-terror mechanism

Sandeep Dikshit

To meet Narayanan, Menon



India wants deeper dialogue to check all means of terror

Pakistan wants Sir Creek, Siachen disputes resolved



NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Major-General (retd.) Mahmud Ali Durrani arrived here on Saturday as part of an exercise to step up familiarity among high level officials and address Indian complaints that the joint anti-terror mechanism (JATM) has not been as effective as are other confidence building measures.

During his stay till Tuesday, Gen. Durrani will meet his counterpart, M.K. Narayanan, and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon for substantive discussions on vitalising the JATM. He will also call on External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for in-depth discussions.

India appreciates the progress made in promoting economic ties and friendly exchanges in several fields. But it feels that Islamabad has displayed less enthusiasm in discussing issues of terrorism and drug trafficking. In this respect, officials point to Mr. Mukherjee’s observations on Pakistan’s management of terror after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred to the country as a victim of terrorism.

“I would like to add to what Ms. Rice has already stated,” said Mr. Mukherjee and pointed out that Pakistan should act on its President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent assurance not to allow his country as a staging point for attacks in India. This could be done by activating the joint terror mechanism, he suggested. India is likely to seek an assurance on more frequent meetings of this mechanism, which was set up in 2006.

India acknowledges the U.S. view that Pakistan has an interest in fighting terrorism, more so since its former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was killed by militants. But it also maintains that the terror training infrastructure, basically across Jammu & Kashmir, is intact.

New Delhi wants deeper discussions with Pakistani officials on containing all means of terror, if not on eliminating their sources.

The “composite dialogue” covers eight subjects including territorial and water-related disputes. Its sub-groups also discuss measures to check terrorism and drug-trafficking, among other things.

During his interaction with Foreign Office officials, Gen. Durrani is likely to touch upon the dates for launching the next round of the composite dialogue as well as discuss the possibility of Dr. Singh and Mr. Zardari meeting on the sidelines of a conference in China this month. Pakistan, on the other hand, wants the Sir Creek and Siachen territorial disputes urgently resolved. It also wants early resolution of differences on the management of rivers common to both.

Several statements from Islamabad have suggested that the Siachen and Sir Creek disputes are resolvable but there has been opposition to opening the Siachen area to civilians.

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