Islamabad: A widely-expected liberalised visa agreement between India and Pakistan was postponed at the Home Secretary-level talks in Islamabad today after Pakistan insisted on political participation. The agreement will provide tourist visas on arrival at the Wagah border for senior citizens and young children.
Though Indian officials were expecting the visa pact to be signed at the conclusion of the talks, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the agreement involved important issues and should be concluded at the political level.
"In principle we have agreed (visa relaxation), but we are working on the mechanics as to how it will be implemented, so in principle they have agreed, both sides, that they will work out the mechanism as to how it has to be implemented but it will be signed shortly, I will be very happy if Mr Chidambaram comes and signs it here," said Mr Malik.
Back in New Delhi, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said the failure in signing of the agreement was due to "some delay in the procedure" in Pakistan and Mr Malik wanting political participation in the exercise.
"We went prepared... That is what was decided between President Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh... We have heard the same reports that the Pakistani side expressed delays in their procedures and the interior minister's desire to get it signed in presence at political level," said Mr Mathai.
High on agenda at the Home Secretary-level talks was terrorism and 26/11. Islamabad raised the issue of India's alleged interference in Balochistan, while New Delhi provided fresh evidence on Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, responsible for the 2008 terror attacks which claimed 166 lives. Mr Malik said the new evidence will be studied since they cannot go by hearsay.
"Today they (Indian delegation) said that they have provided dossier documents regarding Hafiz Saeed's involvement in Mumbai attack. We will examine this and only then will I give a reaction, but as I demanded if there is something substantive we will see this but if it is just hearsay and without any substantive evidence there will be no action taken," said Mr Malik.
As India asked for faster progress in the 26/11 case, Pakistan said that India has not done enough in the Samjhauta Express case. On February 18, 2007, twin blasts had ripped through two coaches of the Samjhauta Express near Panipat, when the bi-weekly train was heading from Delhi to Lahore in Pakistan. Most of the 68 people who died were Pakistanis.
"The Samjhauta Express and the Mumbai terror attacks cannot be spoken of in the same breath," said RK Singh, Union Home Secretary.
In all, it seems, the India-Pakistan relationship is stuck again.
Story first published:
May 25, 2012 12:06 IST