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J&K can't be kept out of anti-terror mechanism: India
Ajay Kaul and V Mohan Narayan in New Delhi | March 26, 2007 13:27 IST
Questioning Pakistan's bid to keep violence in Jammu and Kashmir out of purview of the joint anti-terror mechanism, India has said such a step would be 'incongruous' in the fight against the scourge.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee made it clear that the joint initiative was aimed at covering terrorism everywhere and no area can be kept out of its ambit as terrorists do not respect any territorial borders.
"Terrorism is not confined to place A or B," he told PTI in an interview, underlining that the mechanism was set up with a mandate that the two countries would fight terrorism together wherever it exists.
"Therefore, it will be incongruous to exclude (any) one area...It will not be fighting terrorism because terrorists do not respect any territorial boundary," Mukherjee said. "To fight against terrorists, you cannot say I will fight it here and not there."
When pointed out that Pakistan was trying to draw such a distinction, he said, 'they have expressed their views' and added that as the mechanism gathers momentum, all the issues will be sorted out in course of time.
The decision to set up the anti-terror mechanism was taken when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on September 16 last year in Havana on the sidelines of the NAM Summit.
Through the mechanism, India and Pakistan agreed to exchange information about terrorism with an aim of tracking down the culprits of the past attacks and prevent incidents in future.
However, at the first meeting of the mechanism on March 6-7 in Islamabad, Pakistan told the Indian side that violence in Jammu and Kashmir could not be covered under it as the state was 'disputed'.
"How far it (mechanism) will be productive is yet to be seen but efforts are being made," the External Affairs Minister said.
Mukherjee emphasised that India has not shied away from discussing the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, which is one of the eight subjects under the ongoing composite dialogue.
Terrorism will be a major issue of discussion at the upcoming 14th SAARC Summit to be held in New Delhi on April 3-4.
A victim of terrorism for about three decades, India has been seeking cooperation of other SAARC members to fight the scourge as it has cross-border linkages. However, this has failed to bear much results.
SAARC's commitment to fight terrorism has been in place since 1987 and the (Indo-Pak) joint anti terror mechanism is a 'manifestation' of this, Mukherjee noted.
"The question is how far it (commitment) is reflected in actual action," he said, adding this issue is being taken up with Bangladesh too while Bhutan has already demonstrated it.
Referring to Nepal, Mukherjee pointed out that Maoists there have already joined the national mainstream.
"Maoists are also a terrorist organisation but now they have given up violence, surrendered arms and sending their armed cadres to quarantine and joining the mainstream of national politics," he noted.
On Afghanistan, the External Affairs Minister said peace and stability in that country was essential for the security of the region.
Afghanistan will be attending the coming SAARC Summit for the first time as the eighth member of the regional grouping.