Nawaz, Singh agree to cease fire

NEW YORK – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, who met on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly on Sunday, agreed to task the DGMOs of both countries to ensure cease fire along the Line of Control (LoC), an apparent good omen for the struggling peace between the rival neighbours.

“Both leaders agreed that the precondition for forward movement in the relationship, which they both desire, is really an improvement of the situation on the LoC,” Indian national security adviser Shivshankar Menon told reporters, referring to the Line of Control in the Himalayan territory. According to the Indian adviser, the two leaders reviewed the sate of relations and discussed what steps were necessary for going forward.

India also brought up the issue of bringing justice to Mumbai 2008 bombing perpetrators. Balochistan was also mentioned in the meeting, he said, adding there was no question of India interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs. “My impression it was a useful and constructive meeting.”

“We need to fix the issues first in order to move” forward, he said, noting there is a desire on both sides to move forward.

“We can work hard in the next few months,” he said, when pressed if the two sides discussed specific steps that could help revival of composite dialogue and peace process. “Today, we have to deal with the overwhelming issue on the Line of Control in Kashmir, we dealt with the immediate task (of addressing issues).” Burning issues like Line of Control (LoC) violations, Indian involvement in Balochistan unrest, the Kashmir dispute, Siahcen, Sir Creek, and terrorism besides matters relating to peace between the two countries also came under discussion, he added.

Menon said it was decided in the meeting that the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries would be tasked with ensuring ceasefire on the LoC. To a question, he said no timeline had been set for the next meeting between the two PMs. According to Menon, no proposal for a reduction in military spending was brought up in the meeting from any side. According to sources both the leaders exchanged greetings in Punjabi at the beginning of the talks. During the meeting which started in a cordial atmosphere, both the prime ministers invited each other to visit their respective countries.

The invitations were accepted from both sides. Following Nawaz-Manmohan meeting, talks would be held at the delegation level also. The Pakistani delegation comprises Sartaj Aziz, Khawaja Asif, Ishaq Dar, Tariq Fatemi, Masood Khan and Jalil Abbas Jilani. Led by PM Singh, the Indian delegation was represented by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and the Indian foreign secretary.

India had already refused to hold a joint press conference or the issuance of a joint communiqué after the talks, sources said. It was the first meeting between two prime ministers since Nawaz came to power after a landslide victory in the general election. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said the director generals military operations of Pakistan and India will work together to restore normalcy at the Line of Control. He termed the meeting between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh constructive and positive. Talking to reporters in New York, he said both sides had not decided on any new date for further dialogue.

He said both leaders discussed all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir. The foreign secretary said the question of terrorism certainly was also discussed. “Terrorism is as much a concern of Pakistan as of India.”

“We are aware of Indian concerns and our concerns are also well known to the Indian side (on the issue of terrorism).” Responding to a question about Mumbai 2008 bombing trial, he pointed out that progress on the case was slowed down because of the delay in the visit of the Pakistani Judicial Commission to India.

Now that the commission has returned after interviewing and cross-examining witnesses, it would present the findings to court and this trial would proceed forward

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