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Terror fight offer to Pak

New Delhi, May 24: India has proposed “intelligence sharing” with Pakistan under a joint mechanism to fight cross-border terrorism.

Delhi’s move is an attempt to pick holes in Islamabad’s claim that infiltration and terrorist activities continuing across the border were beyond its control.

The offer also appears to be aimed at sensitising the international community that the peace process initiated by Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee can succeed only if Islamabad shows seriousness in dealing with terrorists operating from bases in Pakistan.

Vajpayee, who embarks on a week-long tour of France, Russia and Germany from May 27, will get more than one opportunity to tell key world players, including the Group of Eight, what he expects from Pakistan.

“The terrorists move around Pakistan, go into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and then cross over to this side. It is not possible that there is no knowledge about their activities. So let us have intelligence sharing under a joint mechanism,” foreign minister Yashwant Sinha said last night.

This is not the first time Sinha has proposed “intelligence sharing”. In August last year, during a Saarc meeting in Kathmandu, he had made a similar suggestion to Pakistan, saying if infiltration continues despite Islamabad’s best efforts, it should take India into confidence.

Sinha’s point was that the neighbours could then come up with a strategy to tackle the problem.

Asked to comment on Islamabad’s claim that infiltration and terrorist activities across the border were beyond its control, Sinha said: “If they claim these things are happening outside their control, then Pakistan should have no problem in agreeing to cooperate with us.”

But he was quick to add that India would welcome any step that Islamabad takes against terrorists.

His reference was to recent reports on the curbs on the Hizb-ul Mujahideen.

India’s offer of “intelligence sharing” is based on the argument that if Pakistan is serious about fighting terrorism, it should demonstrate it by “visible and verifiable” steps.

Sinha argued that if Pakistan was serious about dealing with the problem, it should show the same sincerity it has demonstrated to America by cooperating with US intelligence officials. The cooperation has led to the arrest of nearly 500 al Qaida activists, including some key functionaries. By the same logic, Pakistan could dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil which includes communication networks and financial assistance.

Asked whether India was satisfied with the progress of the peace process, Sinha said the “pace for resumption of dialogue has to be from both sides”.

“It cannot be from one side alone,” he added.

The minister pointed out that India has already nominated its new high commissioner for Islamabad and decided to restore air links with Pakistan. But, so far, Pakistan has neither proposed a name for its mission in Delhi nor has it come back with clarifications on whether it is willing to give over-flight facilities to Indian aircraft.

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