Former Pakistan national security adviser (NSA) Mahmud Ali Durrani has dismissed claims that his country is involved in promoting infiltration and cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and said the mood back home was one of reconciliation.
"There is no official sanction from the Pakistan government to promote cross-border infiltration and terror in Jammu and Kashmir. If at all infiltration is taking place, it is inspite of the government and not because of the government. Currently there is a mood for reconciliation," said Maj Gen (retd) Durrani, who is in New Delhi to hold consultations with senior Indian officials on building Indo-Pak rapprochement.
The former NSA was responding to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement at the annual conference of the DGPs on Friday. The PM said: "There is no room for complacency on the security front in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. There are reports of cross-border camps for terrorists being reactivated, and attempts to induct fresh batches of militants into the country."
The statement comes in the backdrop of last week's Delhi blast and was one of the strongest from the PM in recent months. On Thursday, home minister P. Chidambaram, addressing the first day of the DGP conference, too had pointed out that the Af-Pak region remains the epicentre of terrorism.
These remarks assume importance ahead of the possible meetings between the prime ministers and foreign ministers of the two countries in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Durrani, however, feels the time has arrived to alter the relationship that has been based on "history and mistrust" for over six decades.
"It is time for a strategic shift in relations between India and Pakistan that will promote peace and friendship. Wars have not brought any benefits to Pakistan. All the stakeholders, including the army, desire a strategic shift. Similarly, I feel that the majority stakeholders in India also favour a strategic shift," Durrani noted.
"What we need is a political will and wisdom in both countries to reduce the mistrust. A positive effort was made by reviving the structured dialogue, which was suspended after 26/ 11." Durrani feels a key factor that could bridge the mistrust is frequent people-to-people contact through introduction of a liberal visa regime.
"Only an increase in people-to-people contact can reduce the mistrust. We should begin trusting each other like any other foreigner. The system of town-specific visas and reporting to the police should be abolished," the former army general suggested. He called for promoting tourism and visits between families on both sides of the border as confidence building measures.
It is no secret that the issue of terrorism remains the single biggest hurdle in the improvement of relationship between India and Pakistan. The PM's comments on Friday bore that out again.
But Durrani said for the first time in their history, India and Pakistan face a common threat - terror. He suggested the creation of a multilateral counter-terror mechanism in South Asia involving the four major countries - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
"Identical cells could be created in all these four countries comprising respective security and intelligence officials. These cells should remain in constant communication and meet on a regular basis to share threat perceptions and information," he suggested.
Durrani's last visit to India as Pakistan NSA in 2008 focused on the progress of a joint anti-terror mechanism between the two countries. The mechanism has been defunct since 26/11 and former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao had ruled out its revival during her visit to Islamabad in June.
-Courtesy: Mail Today, India
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
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