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Pakistan, India Wrap Talks on Terror - 2004-08-11

Pakistan and India have wrapped up two days of talks, describing the meetings as "candid" and "constructive."

Negotiators from India and Pakistan wrapped up talks on terrorism and drug trafficking in Islamabad Wednesday, revealing little of what was discussed other than a resolution to continue negotiations.

The discussions were part of a series of mid-level exchanges in advance of a long anticipated foreign ministers' meeting next month in New Delhi.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three major wars and numerous small engagements since their independence from Britain in 1947, most over the divided mountain territory of Kashmir.

New Delhi has repeatedly accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in the Muslim majority areas of Indian-held Kashmir.

Pakistan has denied these charges, and says many of those deemed terrorists by India are in fact freedom fighters seeking self-determination for Kashmiris.

But Pakistani political commentator Ayaz Amir says Islamabad has softened its position since the start of the new peace process last year, agreeing to play a wider role in stopping militants from seeking safe haven in Pakistani Kashmir.

"Pakistan has abandoned much of its position, thanks to American pressure, thanks to other things," he said.

He says that the current round of talks would not be going on if Pakistan had not agreed to clamp down on cross-border militancy in Kashmir.

While Pakistan still supports the struggle for greater Kashmiri autonomy, Mr. Amir says much of this is now a formal position rather than an active policy.

"Its really for satisfying themselves, that we've made our point, this is our position," said Mr. Amir.

As a result, he says, the just-concluded talks were nothing more than an exercise made for appearance sake.