The first meeting of the joint India-Pakistan anti-terror mechanism appears to have worked better than expected, with officials deciding to continue talks on Wednesday. The talks in Islamabad were originally scheduled only for Tuesday. The focus was to set up a mechanism that will function as the nodal panel to route all allegations of abetting terror attacks against each other, an official said.
The five-member Indian delegation — led by KC Singh, additional secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs — handed over “some information” on the Samjhauta Express blasts but reportedly did not share the leads they have garnered. The team handed over some photographs to their Pakistani counterparts. The photographs were of a suspect in the Samjhauta blasts case and of an unidentified dead body in the Mumbai train blasts case.
The Pakistani delegation, headed by Tariq Osman Hyder of the Foreign Office, sought additional details about earlier blasts in Delhi, Varanasi and at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. India had sought information on some leads it had in these cases when the foreign secretaries had last met in November in New Delhi. Pakistan also handed over information about assistance to Balochi separatist groups from across the border, which India has promised to look into.
Continuing the talks on Wednesday assumes significance given the intense pressure Islamabad is facing from Washington and other western powers over the revival of Pakistan’s terror infrastructure, particularly in Afghanistan. Pakistani envoys from across the world are due to meet in Islamabad on Thursday to counter mounting charges of abetting terrorist groups.
Foreign secretaries Shivshankar Menon and Riaz Mohammad Khan are due to meet in Islamabad next week to review the status of talks so far and launch the fourth round of the composite dialogue process.
PTI reported that Pakistan acknowledged that India submitted details of a Pakistani suspect in the Samjhauta case and said the person of Pakistani origin had been missing since 2006. On the photograph of the unclaimed body, suspected to be a suicide bomber, Pakistani officials said the Indian claims were contradictory as the blasts were allegedly caused by remote-controlled devices. They also said they were disappointed India had not provided many details of the Samjhauta blasts probe.