NEW DELHI (AFP) – Curbing terrorism will top the agenda in India’s peace talks with Pakistan that were put on hold after July’s deadly attacks on commuter trains in Mumbai, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.
Top diplomats of the nuclear-armed rivals are due to meet in New Delhi on Tuesday for the first time since the dialogue was suspended after the train bombings in Mumbai, India’s financial hub, that killed 186 people and wounded more than 800.
India blamed Pakistan’s military spy agency of masterminding the attack, a charge rejected by Islamabad.
“Terrorism is an important issue because earlier talks were suspended because of the public outrage after Mumbai blasts,” Mukherjee told reporters in the Indian capital late Friday.
“I would like that they should stick to (previous) assurances (to check militants) which they have given,” Mukherjee said.
The South Asian rivals agreed to set up an anti-terrorism cooperation mechanism when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf on the sidelines of a summit in Cuba in September.
Mukherjee said the two sides would discuss the setting up of the mechanism during the dialogue between Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan.
A top US official said in New Delhi on Friday that militant outfits responsible for attacks in India had “origins” in Pakistan.
“Many of the links that are talked about go back to their origin and ties in Pakistan,” US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher told reporters.
“We all need to work together against terrorism through effective actions so that people in India do not suffer from these blasts,” he said.
Analysts said that Boucher’s statement would put pressure on Islamabad amid growing international concern over Pakistan’s links with militants.
“Within Pakistan and the American and international communities, there is an increasing concern and it has started to affect them. They have got to show some commitment in fighting militants,” said Sukh Deo Muni, former professor of South Asian Studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Experts, however, warned against expecting immediate results from the talks.
“The two sides should ensure the dialogue is not interrupted, but they should not turn it into a one-day cricket match, expecting instant results,” said C. Uday Bhaskar of the government-funded Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.
New Delhi accuses Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, of abetting militant attacks in India, including the Mumbai bombings. Pakistan has asked India to back up its charges with evidence.
The neighbours launched the peace process in 2004 and opened new transport links to boost ties.
But they have made little headway on the central issue of Kashmir, which is divided between the two but claimed in full by both.
Kashmir has been the trigger of two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since their independence from Britain in 1947.