Havana, Sept. 17: India’s decision to put in place a joint anti-terror institutional mechanism with Pakistan is not a shift from New Delhi’s known position on terrorism, foreign secretary-designate Shiv Shankar Menon said here today.
Hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf issued the joint statement following their meeting, Menon defended the decision against the perception that it was a shift from India’s hitherto known position on terrorism within the country and Pakistan’s role in it.
Calling it a “new step” during an interaction with the Indian media here, he argued that the decision indicated a move forward in India-Pakistan relations.
New Delhi has long blamed Pakistan for acts of terrorism within India. Even on the eve of his visit here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had emphasised that Pakistan had to show a stronger commitment to ending cross-border terrorism before the two countries could resume the peace process.
So, does the decision to have a joint India-Pakistan mechanism on countering terror indicate a change from New Delhi’s position' Menon was asked.
He replied that, while India faced terrorist acts by elements with links to Pakistan, the latter too had been a “victim of terror”. Having the joint mechanism was “one way of dealing with the issue”.
But there could not be any guarantee that the setting up of the joint mechanism would result in an end to terrorism within India. “No one can give any such guarantee,” Menon said. It should be worth the attempt if it helped in cutting down terrorism in India.
India’s “basic goals” in its relations with Pakistan remained the same. These related to creating an atmosphere free from violence, settling all disputes between the two countries and building a “new relationship” that would reduce what Singh has repeatedly described as “trust deficit”.
India has similar joint mechanisms with 23 countries and two regional blocs — the European Union and Bimstec (Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Cooperation).