Brushing aside criticism against the formation of a joint mechanism with Pakistan to fight terrorism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said it was aimed at testing Islamabad on implementing its promise to end the scourge directed against India.
He noted that there had been a "trust deficit" between India and Pakistan and emphasised that talks were essential to enable the two countries to find ways and means to tackle their problems, including terrorism.
The decision to set up the joint mechanism will "test" Pakistan on how it fulfils its promise of not allowing territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India, Singh told a joint press conference with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Nainital at the conclusion of a conclave of chief ministers of party-ruled states.
"The criticism against setting up of the joint mechanism is not right. There is no change in our approach on terrorism," Singh asserted, adding his government has been saying that talks with Pakistan can move ahead only when Islamabad fulfils its promise of not allowing the territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India.
The decision to set up the joint mechanism was taken by the Prime Minister and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf during their talks last week in Havana. The move has been criticised by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who said it was a "conspiracy" against the country.
Experts too have raised questions over the practicality of such a mechanism.