India and Pakistan on Saturday agreed to adopt a forward-looking approach in normalising their ties, while recognising the need to “expeditiously” bring perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attack to justice.
Both External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna and his Pakistan counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar emphasised the need for the two countries to set the sight on the future and not be held “hostage” by the past.
At a joint press conference with Ms. Khar, after the two countries signed a liberalised visa agreement, Krishna said both sides had agreed that terrorism posed a “continuing threat” to peace and reaffirmed their commitment to fight the menace effectively.
“The Pakistani side reiterated its commitment to bring to justice all perpetrators of Mumbai attack expeditiously, in accordance with due process of law,” said Mr. Krishna.
Describing his talks with Khar as “cordial, frank and positive”, Mr. Krishna said the foreign secretaries will hold talks on all eight segments of the resumed dialogue process before the two foreign ministers meet in New Delhi next year.
Ms. Khar, meanwhile, pushed India to shed the baggage of the past and build on the “convergences” as there was immense potential to normalise Indo-Pak relations.
“We will build on convergences and will not brood on divergences… We must not be held hostage by history… We must learn from missed opportunities and must commit to not lose further opportunities,” she said.
Ms. Khar cited Pakistan’s move to normalise trade ties with India as a strong message of its intentions to forge ahead towards an improved relationship.
“We are looking at India with a completely different mindset… When Pakistan decides to change a position it has held to for 40 years and liberalise trade ties with India, Pakistan is sending a very very strong message of being willing to forge ahead without being hostage to the past,” Ms. Khar said.
Mr. Krishna said the changed atmosphere in Pakistan augurs well for both countries, and asked both sides to keep their sights on the future.
”… let us walk the talk together,” he said.
“Let us not look back as you have rightly said, let us not be held hostage to whatever has happened earlier. I think we will have to keep our sight to the future,” he said.
Mr. Krishna termed Pakistan’s move to release all Indian fishermen as a “wonderful gesture” and hoped that their boats and trawlers will be returned at the earliest.
Ms. Khar said the India-Pakistan relationship has been one characterised by several missed opportunities and referred to the avalanche that buried over 100 Pakistani soldiers at an Army camp in Siachen.
She said the new visa agreement was the first big step in easing travel restrictions, but the two sides agree that much more needed to be done.
She also said that aspirations of the Kashmiri people should be accommodated.