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Terror to dominate Indo-Pak talks

When officials meet on Tuesday, India will ask Pak what steps it has taken to dismantle terror infrastructure there.

india Updated: May 28, 2006 14:40 IST

With a spurt being witnessed in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and reports of 59 terrorist camps operating from across the border, India will ask Pakistan what steps it has taken on the ground to dismantle terror infrastructure on its soil when top officials of the two countries meet in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The two-day Home Secretary-level talks, which are a part of the ongoing Indo-Pak Composite Dialogue process, will deliberate key issues like terrorism, drug trafficking and exchange of prisoners and fishermen.

New Delhi is concerned over the recent increase in terror activities in J&K and will remind Islamabad during the talks of its commitments not to allow territory under Pakistani control for activities directed against India.

Indian officials say at least 59 terror camps are still operating in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Many of these, which were destroyed during the October 8, 2005 earthquake, have been revived and reactivated recently.

"We will convey our concerns on terrorism to Pakistan. We will present to them full facts and figures on terror activities," a senior Home Ministry official said on Sunday.

At the talks, Home Secretary VK Duggal will lead a nine-member Indian delegation while Pakistani team will be headed by Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah.

The framework of the parleys, being held close on the heels of increase in terror attacks before and after the second Roundtable Conference on Kashmir, has been approved by the Prime Minister's Office and Home Minister Shivraj Patil.

"The purpose of the talks is primarily to convey our concerns on terrorism to the Pakistani side, take steps to further increase operational cooperation between the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Anti-Narcotics Force of Pakistan and, at the same time, emphasise the need for continuing the peace process and increasing people-to-people contacts between the two countries," the official said.

Besides terrorist training camps being operational across the Line of Control (LoC), Government says the Al-Qaeda, which is active in Pakistani-controlled tribal areas and in Afghanistan, has "always been a threat to India whether it is in the borders or in our neighbourhood or in the region".

Replying to questions on the issue of cross-border terrorism, the official said "we would like to know from the Pakistani authorities the ground-level action taken by them in the backdrop of commitments and promises made by Islamabad not to allow terrorists to operate from its soil and areas under its control".

The Indian side will point out Islamabad its past commitments including the January 6, 2004 Joint Statement signed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf on the fight against terror.

Besides matters relating to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India and narcotic drug control, the issues of prisoners and exchange of fishermen, jailed for transgressing into Indian or Pakistani waters, would also prominently figure during the Home Secretary-level talks, the previous round of which were held in New Delhi in August last year.

On combating trade in narcotics, the official said "certain amount" of cooperation was going on between the two countries and the "effort will be to enhance it".

Eventually, he said, the aim was to reach a memorandum of understanding to fight narcotic trade in the region, which adjoins Afghanistan where a large quantum of heroin and other drugs are produced and smuggled through India and Pakistan to other countries.

The Indian side would include officials from NCB and CBI and ministries of External Affairs and Home.

First Published: May 28, 2006 11:59 IST