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RAW, ISI chiefs may meet to rebuild trust

August 13, 2012 15:50 IST

Pakistan and India are mulling a proposal for a meeting of the chiefs of their intelligence agencies as part of a series of confidence-building measures to build goodwill, according to a media report on Monday.

The proposal is among "numerous mechanisms" being explored to reduce the trust deficit between the two neighbours, The Express Tribune quoted official sources as saying.

It quoted a source as claiming that the US was instrumental in persuading the two countries to discuss the possibility of a meeting between the heads of the Research and Analysis Wing and Inter-Services Intelligence.

A Pakistani official was quoted as saying that several proposals, including regular interactions between the security agencies of the two countries, were on the table.

"But it is too early to say anything at this stage," the official said, referring to the probability of talks between the ISI and RAW chiefs.

Another unnamed official was quoted as saying that some Western powers, particularly the US, were keen on increased coordination and discussions between the two countries.

The official said the US wants to ensure that there is no deterioration in ties between India and Pakistan during the next few years as the US-led coalition pulls out of Afghanistan.

"Against this backdrop, these players believe that a meeting between the two countries at the security agencies-level can go a long way to achieve that objective," said the official.

The report said no one was willing to officially comment on the matter due to the sensitivity of the issue.

A security official even expressed ignorance about the development.

"We are not privy to any such proposal," the official said.

The proposal, "if materialised, could mark the beginning of a new phase in the relationship between the two countries", the report contended.

Pakistan first made efforts to set up a meeting between the RAW and ISI chiefs in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, sources told PTI.

At that time, India's defence attache and journalists were sounded out about the proposal by Pakistani intelligence operatives.

However, Indian government had several reservations about the Pakistani proposal, the sources said.

For one, the RAW is under civilian control while the ISI is part of the Pakistani military set-up.

The sources further pointed out that while the RAW acts in an advisory capacity to the Indian government, the ISI was part of the decision-making apparatus for Pakistan's security and foreign policies.

Immediately after the Mumbai attacks, then premier Yousuf Raza Gilani announced that the ISI chief would visit India to help authorities in the investigation of the incident.

Later the same day, the decision was reversed after an adverse reaction from the security establishment.

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