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India to Raise Infiltration, Terrorism in Bilateral Talks with Pakistan

  • Shahnawaz Khan

The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday, May 21, for the fourth round of the so-called composite dialogue process. It is the first high level bilateral talks between the two countries since the civilian government took over in Pakistan in March. Indian officials say they will raise the issue of alleged infiltration and "cross border terrorism" with Pakistan.

A week before Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee was to travel to Islamabad to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, serial bomb blasts in crowded markets shook the Indian city of Jaipur killing more than 60 people.

The same day the Indian army said that Pakistan had violated a 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir by firing at one of its posts. Pakistan denied the allegation.

In Kashmir, where India claims an insurgency was at its end, officials say that there is a sudden increase in infiltration on the borders, allegedly abetted by Pakistan.

Eight people were killed in a gunfight between suspected militants and troops in the Samba sector of Indian administered Kashmir last week. Officials blamed recent infiltration for the attack. On Saturday, Indian police killed six rebels in a major gunfight in the Tral area of southern Kashmir.

The developments are likely to dominate bilateral talks on Wednesday that are the first since the civilian government in Pakistan took over in March. Earlier, the two countries held three rounds of dialogue since initiating a peace process in 2003.

Unlike in past incidences, where India has been quick to blame Pakistan based groups for the blasts, this time it showed restraint. However officials said the issue of what India calls cross border terrorism and infiltration will come up in the scheduled talks.

India's foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon will be meeting his Pakistani counterpart a day ahead of the talks between the foreign ministers.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi after the Jaipur blasts last week Menon said.

"For us the fact of infiltration itself is a problem. We will deal with it on the ground and also bilaterally with Pakistan. We will raise it with them," Menon said.

Menon however refrained from blaming Pakistan for the blasts.

"I wont jump to conclusions. We are still in the process of investigating and looking at it. Once we come to certain conclusion then we will decide what we do," Menon said.

The Pakistani side has however expressed optimism about the talks and played down Menon's remarks. Pakistan's foreign office spokesman said Thursday that they were very positive about the talks and hope to make further progress on many issues including Kashmir.