In first step, Pakistan, India agree to cut LoC tensions
30 September, 2013
NEW YORK: The leaders of India and Pakistan pledged Sunday to find ways to restore calm on the Line of Control in Kashmir as an initial step toward reconciliation, an Indian official said.
Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani has said the director generals military operations of Pakistan and India will work together to restore normalcy at the Line of Control. He termed the meeting between prime ministers Nawaz and Singh as constructive and positive. Talking to the media in New York after the meeting, he said the two sides have not decided the new date for further dialogue. He said both the leaders discussed all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has advocated an end to historic tensions with India since he swept to power in May elections, held his first meeting with Singh on the sidelines of the annual UN summit. An Indian official said that the two leaders, who met for more than an hour in a New York hotel, decided to task senior military officers to "find effective means to restore the ceasefire" in Kashmir. "Both agreed that the precondition for forward movement in the relationship, which they both desire, is really an improvement of the situation on the LoC," Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon told reporters, referring to the Line of Control in Kashmir.
He said Prime Minister Singh invited Prime Minister Nawaz to visit India and the latter also invited Singh to visit Pakistan. Peace and tranquillity on the Line of Control is a pre-requisite for any progress in the stalled peace process between the two nations, Menon added. He said Prime Minister Nawaz also raised the issue of Siachen and Sir Creek. According to the Indian adviser, the two leaders reviewed the sate of relations and discussed what steps are necessary for going forward.
Balochistan was also mentioned in the meeting, Menon said, adding there is no question of India interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs. "My impression it was a useful and constructive meeting." "We need to fix the issues first in order to move" forward, he said, noting there is a desire on both sides to move forward. "We can work hard in the next few months," he said, when pressed if the two sides discussed specific steps that could help revival of composite dialogue and peace process.
The talks come after militants raided an army base in Indian-held Kashmir on Thursday, killing 10 people in an attack seen as aimed at holding back reconciliation efforts between the historic rivals. India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring militants, though the violence has subsided sharply since the 1990s and early 2000s. Menon said that Prime Minister Nawaz promised "there would be action" on punishing extremists over the Mumbai attack, and said the talks were friendly. But he added: "As for how useful and productive the meeting was, I think the only proof will be in the months to come."
Nawaz and Singh extended invitations to visit the other country, but no dates were set, Menon said. Nawaz, in a speech to the UN General Assembly, on Friday called for a "new beginning" with India and denounced the developing nations' years of intense military development as a waste of resources. But Singh, who did not speak publicly on Sunday, has said that Pakistan must stop being "the epicentre of terrorism" in South Asia.
"For progress to be made, it is imperative that the territory of Pakistan and the areas under its control are not utilized for aiding or abetting terrorism," Singh said from the UN podium on Saturday.
"It is equally important that the terrorist machinery that draws its sustenance from Pakistan be shut down," he said. The meeting is the first between the two countries' leaders since Nawaz won May elections. Singh met in August last year with then president Asif Ali Zardari, on the sidelines of a summit in Iran of the Non-Aligned Movement.