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India, Pak target terror, open trade routes

Promising “severe action” against terrorists, India and Pak agree to stabilise their ceasefire, open trade by road through Kashmir, Wagah-Attari and by rail between Khokrapar and Munabao, reports Varghese K George.

world Updated: Sep 26, 2008 01:22 IST
Varghese K George

Promising “severe action” against terrorists, India and Pakistan late Wednesday agreed to stabilise their ceasefire, open trade by road through Kashmir, Wagah-Attari and by rail between Khokrapar and Munabao.

Acknowledging that the peace process had come under “strain” in recent months, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Zardari agreed that a special meeting of the joint Anti-Terror Mechanism will be held in October. This would address “mutual concerns”, including the suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

The two leaders, who met for the first time, decided that cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot roads will commence on October 21.

“Both leaders agreed that the forces that have tried to derail the process must be defeated,” they said in a joint statement.

The meeting, described by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon as “warm and cordial”, had Zardari describing Singh as the “architect of modern India”.

The leaders hugged each other before the meeting and both were left alone for most of the meeting that took “well over an hour,” aided by officials in the beginning and the end.

Both spoke in Punjabi, too, adding a personal touch to the meeting. “A peaceful, prosperous and stable Pakistan is in the interest of India,” Singh told the Pakistani media at the venue of the meeting. “I am impressed by Zardari…he is a visionary person and we can work together,” he said.

“They agreed that violence, hostility and terrorism had no place in the vision they share of the bilateral relationship and must be visibly and verifiably prevented,” Menon said. “Severe action would be taken against any elements directing or involved in terrorist attacks.”