India, Pakistan discuss measures to boost trade, transport


Islamabad : Nearly a week after India blamed Pakistan’s ISI for the July 7 suicide attack on the Indian mission in Kabul, the two countries Friday kept their peace process on course by discussing confidence-building measures aimed at boosting trade and transport across the Line of Control dividing Kashmir.

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The meeting of the India-Pakistan Working Group on cross-LoC CBMs was held here in “a cordial and constructive atmosphere”, a joint statement at the end of the day-long talks said.

“They also reviewed measures to ensure effective implementation of the existing cross-LoC measures,” the statement said.

T.C.A Raghvan, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan in the Indian ministry of external affairs, held talk with Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, director general in charge of South Asia and SAARC in the Pakistan Foreign Office, on enhancing trade and transport links across the LoC.

They also discussed modalities for implementing decisions taken by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi during their meeting in Islamabad May 21.

The two sides had agreed on many cross-LoC CBMs that will enhance people-to-people contact and help “build on convergences and narrow down divergences on Kashmir”. These include raising the frequency of the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar and Rawalkot-Poonch bus services from fortnightly to weekly basis and finalising modalities for intra-Kashmir trade and truck services.

This was the first round of talks since India blamed Pakistan’s ISI for the bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed four Indians, including an Indian diplomat and a military attaché of brigadier rank.

Islamabad has denied any role in the deadly blasts that also killed 54 Afghans in the first major attack on Indian assets abroad.

The issue of the alleged complicity of Pakistan’s ISI in the suicide attack will figure prominently during discussions between Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir when they meet in New Delhi Monday to launch the fifth round of composite dialogue.