By Mahvish Akhtar, Muslim Media News Network (MMNS)
Pakistan and India are in the process of trying to boost their relationship in any way possible. On May 30th and May 31st, the Indian and Pakistani Home Secretaries were to hold dialogues in Islamabad. Heading a 9 member entourage, V.K Duggal came to Pakistan on Monday and will meet with his counterpart Syed Kamal Shah. The Pakistani Home Secretary said that, â€œThe two sides will also discuss cooperation in combating terrorism, human and drug trafficking and other organized crimes.â€
The two sides will also discuss the detainees who were captured by both countries for inadvertently crossing the border. In a goodwill gesture India has already released 59 Pakistani fishermen who were fishing illegally. The officials also discussed cooperation in ending narcotics-trafficking and terrorism. The talks on terrorism and drug trafficking will be continued on June 1st in New Delhi when the Culture Secretaries for the two countries are scheduled to meet.
Despite the seeming thaw in relations between the nations, fights continue in the Kashmir region. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to the Kashmiri militants in Pakistan to come home, in an effort to solve the problems peacefully. He also asked the Indian troops to be humane while performing their duties. India says that many Kashmiri militants have crossed over to freed Kashmir, where they get training and weapons in order to come back and continue fighting.
Pakistan is denying this charge and also has checked along the Control Lines just to be sure. The entire city of Srinagar was shut down while the peace talks were taking place.
People had arranged a strike to counter the peace talks and to voice their opinion about how these talks have gotten them nowhere so far. Under these circumstances, 60,000 Indian troops were dispersed in the city. The Indian Prime Minister said that the army has to be firm but humane; he also said that this was necessary while the leadership for both sides was pursuing peace talks. â€œThe security forces must at all times function within the parameters of the law.â€
â€œYou must be steadfast in your commitment to human rights and there should be zero tolerance for custodial deaths,â€ he added.
The Prime Minister of India said, â€œI have said repeatedly to President Musharraf and the people of Pakistan that we are sincerely committed to peace and development in this region. Our government is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu & Kashmir. There is also realization that terrorism is an enemy of civilized societies. The normalization of relations between India and Pakistan will open up enormous opportunities for an accelerated rate of economic growth. â€œWe must encourage people-to-people contacts between both sides.â€ He also said that he was very hopeful with the directions that the talks with Pakistan were taking. â€œIn order to move forward, we need to move ahead step by step. We must have the courage to see each other as supporting the other for the realization of a better tomorrow for all the people of India and Pakistan,â€ he said.
Along with the bilateral talks, India and Pakistan are also among the six nations who have pledged to enhance cooperation in social development to optimize the effectiveness of their policies. Other S. Asian countries in this pledge are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives. It is a non-decision-making body and only gives advice and suggestion to the government and does not hold any decision making authority on its own.
This yearâ€™s committee was chaired by Pakistan. Next yearâ€™s Chairman will be India.