India, Pak one on peace, two on process
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India, Pak one on peace, two on process

The nuclear-armed neighbours reiterated their differences over ways to end nearly 60 years of enmity.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 19:32 IST
YP Rajesh (Reuters)
YP Rajesh (Reuters)

India and Pakistan on Wednesday made a fresh commitment to push forward a fragile peace process but the nuclear-armed neighbours reiterated their differences over ways to end nearly 60 years of enmity.

Top diplomats of the two countries agreed that two-year-old peace talks had helped boost relations and that they were optimistic despite fears that the dialogue had reached a stalemate.

But they stuck to familiar positions on the territorial dispute over Kashmir -- at the heart of India-Pakistan rivalry -- and what New Delhi says is terrorist violence emanating from Islamist terrorist groups based in Pakistan.

"The two foreign secretaries ... expressed satisfaction at the progress made during the composite dialogue process," a joint statement said at the end of two days of talks between the heads of the two foreign ministries.

"The two sides reiterated their resolve to carry forward the peace process and maintain its momentum," it said.

The arch rivals launched new peace moves after teetering near the brink of another war over Kashmir in 2002. The dispute over the Himalayan region has been the cause of two of three wars between the neighbours.

Ties have since improved significantly with the resumption of several transport links between the two sides and decisions to reduce military tensions and improve communication channels as a truce between the two armies holds successfully.

The two sides are yet to tackle the Kashmir dispute. The peace process ran into trouble around September last year when Pakistan accused India of dragging its feet over Kashmir while New Delhi said Islamabad was not keeping its promise to curb anti-Indian terrorists.

Violence, Trust

Both sides have since had some tense diplomatic exchanges and analysts say relations are now at their lowest ebb since the dialogue began.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran expressed concern about Pakistani support for terrorists fighting in Kashmir and said Islamabad needs to do more to curb them.

India also blames Pakistani terrorists for bomb attacks in New Delhi last October that killed 66 people and a shooting at a university in Bangalore last month in which a professor was killed.

"We drew attention to the fact that there is no end to cross-border terrorism. We believe that the infrastructure of terrorism continues to exist," Saran said.

"We do not wish this to be a question mark over the peace process," he said.

Saran also said that moves to build trust in Kashmir, such as allowing easier contact between people of the region divided between India and Pakistan, were crucial to help the two countries arrive at a final solution to the dispute.

Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan rejected Indian charges over terrorist violence saying Islamabad was part of an international fight against terrorism and it would not allow any terrorist activity from its territory.

He also countered Saran's position that building trust in Kashmir would help the two sides resolve the thorny dispute.

"That is a point of view," Khan told a news conference, referring to Saran's comments. "It is now time that we address a problem that has been there for decades."

"There have to be purposeful discussions for a peaceful and final negotiated settlement. We should start resolving the problem now."

First Published: Jan 19, 2006 00:00 IST