Indo-Pak secy level talks in Islamabad

Indo-Pak secy level talks in Islamabad
Bhavna Vij-Aurora
New Delhi, November 24, 2008

Armed with a detailed report on investigations into Samjhauta Express blast last year in which 68 people – mostly Pakistani nationals – were killed, Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta has left for Islamabad on Monday.

He will be holding talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Federal Secretary Interior, Syed Kamal Shah on Tuesday. Sources said that though there is not a very rigid agenda for the fifth round of home secretary level talks between the two countries, India is expecting Pakistan to raise the issue.

“Pakistan has raised this issue several times with India during talks at various levels. So far, we did not have anything concrete to tell them. Even now, though things are not very concrete, at least some headway has been made,” disclosed a senior home ministry official.

However, it is also somewhat embarrassing for the Indian side since the needle of suspicion is now on Hindu terrorists, and not the Muslim ones as the investigating agencies had suspected. “We have told them each time that it is probably Bangladesh-based HuJI and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba. Now it will be a complete U-turn,” the official added.

The talks are part of the on-going composite dialogue process between the two countries. The last home secretary level talks between India and Pakistan were held in July 2007 in New Delhi.

Home Ministry’s Additional Director General (Media & Communications) Onkar Kedia said that these talks will be held in the backdrop of recently initiated cross-LoC trade, which is a big step towards bringing people closer. “The talks seek to intensify efforts on the part of both the countries to discuss issues relating to terrorism, counterfeit currency, drug trafficking, exchange of prisoners and visa regime,” he said.

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