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Mechanism is for all terror forms

In response to claims by Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin that groups "fighting for freedom in Kashmir are not terrorists", the government said that the mechanism is "mandated to address all forms of terrorism", reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2006 03:05 IST

The government has not made any official announcement of the composition or even the scope of the joint anti-terrorism mechanism between India and Pakistan, agreed upon between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf in Havana on September 16.

However, in response to claims by Hizb-ul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin that groups "fighting for freedom in Kashmir are not terrorists", the government said on Wednesday that the mechanism is "mandated to address all forms of terrorism."

A cryptic statement from the Ministry of External Affairs spokesman, Navtej Sarna, said, "There is no doubt in our minds as to what constitutes terrorism and it is clear that the group is mandated to address all forms of terrorism."

The context was Salahuddin's interview to NDTV, in which the head of the largest militant group in Jammu and Kashmir said, "this (joint anti terror mechanism) does not apply to them (groups fighting for freedom in Kashmir). They have a different status."

After the mechanism was announced in the Joint Statement issued after the Singh-Musharraf summit, there has been no word on who would be part of this mechanism and what its mandate would be. The announcement has been met with some optimism and a great deal of criticism, forcing the government to "intensively consider, even brainstorm" every aspect of the proposal "at a very senior level," an official said.

Prior to Salahuddin's interview, there have been suggestions that, to get the mechanism off the ground, India and Pakistan would collaborate in curbing incidents of terrorism in the rest of India, with operations in J&K, at least initially, being kept out of the purview of the joint anti-terror mechanism.

According to Sarna, "The anti-terrorism institutional mechanism agreed to between India and Pakistan in Havana is clearly mandated by the September 16 Joint Statement to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations."