India, Pakistan resume talks

26/11 terror attack, Samjhauta Express blast discussed on day one of meet

India asked Pakistan to speed up the trial of the seven 26/11 plotters in the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi. Pillai also briefed Zaman about the National Investigation Agency’s probe into the Samjhauta Express blast. He, however, also made it clear that the probe was still continuing and details could be shared only when the investigation would be completed.

The blast on the Delhi-Lahore train had claimed 68 lives and most of the victims were Pakistanis. Islamabad has been asking New Delhi to share information on Samjhauta Express blast probe ever since incarcerated monk Swami Aseemanand’s confession about the role of people linked with Sangh Parivar came to public domain.

Pakistan proposed revival of the Joint Anti Terror Mechanism. But India is reluctant to revive the mechanism that was suspended along with the Composite Dialogue in the aftermath of the 26/11. New Delhi, however, is believed to be not averse to working out an alternative arrangement for counterterrorism cooperation. A final decision is expected on Tuesday, when Pillai and Zaman would meet again to conclude the two-day talks.

“Talks are extremely positive. Progress made in certain direction, in the right direction,” Pillai told journalists after the first day’s talks. Zaman, who is leading a 12-member delegation from Pakistan, said that the talks were “very positive”.

“But I can tell you with good amount of certainty that it’s been a very positive attitude displayed by both sides and I am really confident about tomorrow’s proceedings also,” he said.

U K Bansal, Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the NIA chief S C Sinha are among the officials, who were also present in the meeting. The Pakistani delegation included the country’s envoy to India, Shahid Malik.

With Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani accepting his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh’s invitation to join him to watch the World Cup semifinal between the two countries’ cricket teams at Mohali, both Pillai and Zaman as well as other officials were tightlipped about discussions on the contentious issues, ostensibly to ensure that the air of bonhomie is maintained ahead of the meeting of the two leaders on the sideline of the match on Wednesday.

Sources said that the talks on Monday had been ‘substantive’ and both sides discussed issues in “a free and frank manner”. A joint statement is likely to be released on Tuesday. The issues related to easing visa restrictions and release of incarcerated fishermen were also discussed.

India asked Pakistan to provide voice samples of the seven 26/11 plotter being tried in the court in Rawalpindi. The two sides discussed the issue of allowing judicial commission of each country to travel to the other and record the statements of Ajmal Kasab – the lone 26/11 terrorist to be caught alive and tried – in Mumbai and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and six other LeT operatives in Rawalpindi.

Home Secretary level talks are likely to be followed by parleys between officials on issues like Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and Wullar Barrage or Tulbul Navigation Project. The Commerce Secretaries of the two countries are also likely to meet to discuss bilateral trade and economic issues. New Delhi is reluctant to term it as resumption of Composite Dialogue, which it had suspended in the wake of the 26/11.

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