‘Kashmir Should Be Dialogue’s Core Issue’15 June 2011
Islamabad: In an apparent move to counter Indian efforts to get the upcoming foreign secretaries talks focused on fresh evidence related to the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan said on Wednesday that Kashmir should be the dialogue’s core issue. No dates have been finalised yet for the talks, but a source said Islamabad had proposed June 24-25. Delhi is yet to respond to the proposal. “Jammu and Kashmir is the core issue and it was imperative to address this issue effectively and in a purposeful manner in the forthcoming dialogue with India,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office after Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir’s consultative session with Kashmiri leadership on the impending dialogue with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao. The two secretaries are to discuss Jammu and Kashmir; peace and security; and friendly exchanges at the meeting, but India, according to the source, is pushing for a discussion on the latest evidence in the Mumbai attacks in the light of Headley’s testimony before a Chicago court and Tahawwur Rana’s confessional statement. India has recently given a fresh dossier with description of another five Mumbai suspects – Sajid Mir, Abu Qahafa, Major Iqbal, Mazhar Iqbal and an individual identified only as ‘Lashkar member D’. The two sides discussed the progress in the Mumbai case at the meeting of interior-home secretaries in March at the start of the ongoing engagement process. Mumbai per se does not form part of the agenda of the secretaries’ meeting and Indian push for its inclusion is being seen by Pakistani officials as counter-productive. Pakistani officials say they were not very optimistic about the meeting that follows stalemate in discussions on Siachen and Sir Creek. “We are cognizant that despite our desire to have a result-oriented process, it can’t happen in one interaction,” a senior official noted and called for finding space to allow the revived peace process to progress. Earlier this week Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna indicated that the foreign secretary would raise the issue of alleged nexus between ISI and the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, highlighted during the trial of terror suspect Tahawwur Rana.