Sun, May 27, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Pakistan, India unite to fight terrorism

UNLIKELY BEDFELLOWS:The two countries, usually antagonistic toward each another, vowed to fight terrorism together as Pakistan-US relations deteriorated

AFP, ISLAMABAD and MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN

Pakistan and India on Friday pledged to fight terrorism together, calling it “a continuing threat to peace and security” and a block to the full establishment of normal relations.

The announcement came after two-day talks between the home and interior secretaries of the two countries at the Pakistani tourist resort of Bhurban.

“Both sides agreed that terrorism poses a continuing threat to peace and security and full normalization of bilateral relations,” a joint statement said.

“They reiterated the firm and undiluted commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate this scourge in all its forms and manifestations and bring those responsible for such crimes to justice,” it added.

Relations between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, have been plagued by border disputes, and accusations of Pakistani militant activity against India.

Pakistan “agreed in principle” to host a judicial commission from India to look at the investigation into the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which 166 people died.

India blames Pakistani militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba group for training, equipping and financing the attack with support from “elements” in the Pakistani military.

The talks were led by Pakistani Interior Secretary Siddiq Akbar and Indian Home Secretary Raj Kumar Singh and included security experts from each countries.

The neighboring countries agreed to enhance cooperation on terrorism, human trafficking, narcotics, counterfeit currency and cybercrime.

It was the second round of talks between the home secretaries of the two nations after the first held in New Delhi in March last year.

The talks have taken place against a backdrop of worsening relations between Pakistan and its ally in the fight against terrorism: the US. Relations between the uneasy allies plunged into crisis after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on Nov. 26.

The incident prompted Islamabad to shut its Afghan border to NATO supplies and evict US personnel from an airbase reportedly used as a hub for drones.

Pakistan has been incensed by Washington’s refusal to apologize for the November air strikes and US officials have so far rejected Pakistani proposals to charge several thousand dollars for each alliance truck crossing the border.

Despite Pakistani criticism, US officials are believed to consider the drone attacks too useful to stop them altogether. They have argued that drone strikes are a valuable weapon in the war against al-Qaeda and other Islamist militants.

Pakistan signaled last week that it was prepared to end the NATO blockade, but hopes of clinching a deal appeared to break down over the cost of transit rights.

The blockade has forced NATO to rely on longer, more expensive routes through Russia and Central Asia, even as it plans a large-scale withdrawal of combat troops and hardware from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Making things more tense were Pakistani security officials’ report that a US drone attack killed at least four militants early yesterday in a northwestern Pakistani tribal district which borders Afghanistan.

The attack took place at a house near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district, a known hideout of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants, the officials said.

“A US drone fired two missiles at a house and at least four militants were killed,” a senior security official said. Two other officials confirmed the attack.

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