Pakistan promised India on Thursday that it will do “everything in its power” to bring the Mumbai terror attackers to justice, a key demand by New Delhi to improve relations.
The prime ministers of the two nuclear powers also agreed that action on terrorism should not be linked to their dialogue, the joint statement said, something that has been asked for by Islamabad.
Subsequent comments from the Indian prime minister, though, threw doubt on whether those talks would resume any time soon.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani met on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Summit in Sharm el-Sheik, in a much anticipated meeting that comes after a seven-month freeze in their peace talks due to an attack by alleged Pakistani gunmen on India’s financial capital of Mumbai that killed 166 people.
“Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistan will do everything in their power in this regard,” said the statement.
The two prime ministers agreed to cooperate on the investigation into the incident, which India maintains was planned and launched from Pakistan.
“Pakistan has provided an updated status dossier on the investigations of the Mumbai attacks and (the prime minister) has sought additional information and evidence,” the statement said.
The leaders also agreed that they would “share real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threat.”
In a move of great importance to Pakistan, the two leaders also agreed to de-link their wider talks on issues such as water, demilitarization and the disputed territory of Kashmir from the discussions over terrorism.
“Both prime ministers recognized that dialogue is the only way forward. Action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process,” the statement said. “Prime Minister Singh said that India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues.”
But speaking to Indian journalists after the meeting, Singh was at pains to emphasize that his government was not climbing down from the original position that terrorism-related issues had to be addressed first.
“The composite dialogue process cannot resume unless and until terrorist acts, like the one which shook Mumbai, are properly accounted for and perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to book,” he told Indian television.