While last week’s serial blasts in Jaipur placed cross-border terrorism back on top of the India-Pakistan dialogue agenda, this specific episode will not come up in discussions Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon holds with his counterpart Salman Bashir on Tuesday, because investigations into the attacks are still on.
India will, however, seek to set early dates for a meeting of the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism to see if there has been any progress on terrorism related issues.
“We go in the hope that the bilateral peace process can go forward,” Menon said on Sunday, adding: “We hope to build the relationship on three basic levels.”
“The absence of violence,” though not a precondition, is vital. “We are ready to address all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, and hope to build a cooperative relationship with stakes in each other’s development, both economic and social,” he said.
The meetings in Islamabad between Menon and Bashir and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his counterpart Shah Mehmud Qureshi (on Wednesday) are significant, as they constitute a resumption of high-level political contact with the newly-elected government in Pakistan. Not only will they review the concluded fourth round of the composite dialogue but also see how the peace process could be carried forward.
India will raise its various concerns, including terrorism, which is a joint concern, since Pakistan recently lost Benazir Bhutto terrorists; the handing over of Dawood Ibrahim, an international terrorist; and the release of all prisoners, including Sarabjit Singh, official sources said.
Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Menon declined attempts to “pre-judge” the outcome of investigations in the Jaipur blasts. “The Jaipur case, we are still in the process of investigating. When we come to some conclusions, we will see where the sources are, where the roots are, where it’s come from, how it happened, and then we will decide what we do,” he said.
Asked to comment on reports of increased cross-border infiltration by terrorists from across the border, Menon said, “For us, the fact of infiltration itself is the problem and we will deal with it on the ground.”