Keen to reduce the trust deficit between India and Pakistan, their home secretaries on Tuesday decided to “entertain” each others’ commissions in connection with the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and to set up a hotline at their offices to share information on terror threats.
These decisions were part of a joint statement issued after the talks and ahead of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday.
"We have moved forward and the trust deficit has significantly reduced,” home secretary GK Pillai declared at the end of the dialogue with his counterpart Qamar Zaman Chaudhary.
Singh and Gilani had last year referred to the trust deficit and the home secretaries’ meeting could contribute to restoring the composite dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad.
There was, however, no clarity on the composition of the Indian commission that could travel across the border in connection with the probe into the 26/11 terror attacks.
Sources suggested Delhi would have to get an Indian court to set up the commission to give it legal cover.
The original idea was to send a team of Indian investigators that could question masterminds of the 26/11 attacks, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Islamabad had, however, expressed its inability to let in Indian investigators.
New Delhi agreed to Islamabad ’s proposal to discuss the findings that link the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast to right-wing elements. The two sides also charted the roadmap to liberalise the restrictive visa regime, particularly to enable senior citizens, journalists and businessmen to travel across the border more easily. Both sides also decided to make efforts to deepen people-to-people contacts and intensify cooperation between anti-narcotics investigating agencies.
The home secretaries decided to make what earlier was an annual meeting a six-monthly affair and pledged to exchange a complete list of prisoners in each others’ custody by July 1.
“This is the first step in a long road ahead,” a government source said, emphasising that the security establishment had been conscious of the importance of this round of talks for resumption of the composite dialogue.