Shut terror set-up, Modi tells Sharif

Shut terror set-up, Modi tells Sharif

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to shut the terror-exporting machine based in his country.

Modi, however, agreed to explore ways to restart bilateral engagement that was suspended after an Indian Army soldier was beheaded by Pakistan’s armed forces in January 2013.

Modi, who took over as Prime Minister on Monday, held a series of bilateral meetings with Sharif and leaders of six other South Asian nations as well as his counterpart from Mauritius on his first day in office. The foreign leaders were in New Delhi on his invitation and attended the swearing-in ceremony of his government on Monday.

The new prime minister underlined India’s concerns on terrorism emanating from Pakistan during the 45-minute meeting with his guest from Islamabad.

He also confronted Sharif with the view of the Afghan government that the recent attack on the Consulate General of India (CGI) at Herat in western Afghanistan was carried out by the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a terrorist outfit that is based in Pakistan and has been known to be infrastructurally supported by the security establishment of Islamabad.

They, however, agreed that the foreign secretaries of the two countries would meet soon and remain in touch to chart out ways to restart the formal bilateral engagement, which had remained suspended for more than one-and-a-half years.

Sharif told Modi that his government was ready “to discuss all issues between the two countries in a spirit of cooperation and sincerity”, but “engaging in accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive” for both the nations. He later told journalists that his meeting with Modi should be “a historic opportunity” for both countries.

“I pointed out (to Modi) that we were at the beginning of our respective tenures, with a clear mandate. This provides us the opportunity of meeting the hopes and aspirations of our people that we will succeed in turning a new page in our relations,” said Sharif, who took over as prime minister on June 5 last year after leading his party to a landslide victory in the national elections of Pakistan.

“The Prime Minister (Modi) underlined our concerns relating to terrorism. It was conveyed (to Sharif) that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent its territory and territory under its control from being used for terrorism against India,” Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh later told journalists.

Modi told Sharif that New Delhi would expect Islamabad to expedite the protracted trial of the seven LeT operatives, accused of plotting the November 26-28, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, in an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan. He also asked the Pakistan Prime Minister to ensure conviction of the terror masterminds.

The new prime minister had a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier in the day. Karzai is understood to have informed Modi about reports a western intelligence agency shared with National Directorate of Security of Afghanistan about the attack on the CGI at Herat last Friday.

The Afghan president earlier told a TV channel that the information received by his government from the western intelligence agency pointed to the role of the LeT in the recent attack. The LeT, which is based in Pakistan, had carried out a suicide attack on the CGI at Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan on August 3 last year.

Sharif met former prime minister A B Vajpayee at his residence, offered prayers at the historic Jama Masjid and visited the Red Fort before meeting Modi.

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