New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) The home secretaries of India and Pakistan meet here Monday for two days of talks to review tricky issues like prosecution of the Mumbai terror attack suspects, counter-terrorism and visa rules.
The talks between G.K. Pillai of India and Chaudhry Qamar Zaman of Pakistan will kickstart a series of meetings between bureaucrats from now till July when the foreign ministers of the two countries meet.
The two-day talk ends just a day before Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh of India and Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan will together watch the World Cup cricket semi-final match between their countries at Mohali Wednesday.
India suspended the composite dialogue with Pakistan after the 2008 attack on Mumbai by 10 Pakistani terrorists.
India has blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks and specifically mentions its founder Hafiz Saeed as one of the masterminds of the carnage that left 166 people dead.
Zaman told reporters after crossing the land border in Punjab: “My priority will be to take this message of friendship and friendliness from Pakistan to my colleagues in India, with whom I will get the opportunity after a break of couple of years.”
India and Pakistan agreed to restart their dialogue after the foreign secretaries met in Thimpu in February. They specifically indicated that “progress on Mumbai trial” will be the focal point of the home secretary talks.
One key issue to be discussed will be deciding the dates and procedures for a judicial commission from Pakistan to visit India and interview some of the witnesses in the Mumbai attack.
India will also look to send its own judicial commission to Pakistan.
India has been vocally unhappy with the progress of the trial of the seven Mumbai attack suspects at a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.
The case is likely to face another delay after the judge refused to name Ajmal Kasab and Fahim Ansari, who are in Indian custody, as fugitives.
The Indian delegation at the Monday-Tuesday talks is expected to raise the long-standing demand for voice samples of some of the 26/11 handlers, to match them with the hours of taped telephone calls between the terrorists in Mumbai with their bosses in Pakistan.
Visa is part of the agenda, with officials likely to discuss ways to bring down restrictions on travel and improve people-to-people contact.
“We will be talking to our counterparts in India how to make travel easier for common man,” Zaman said.
After the home secretaries, secretaries of commerce will meet in April followed by water resources department officials. The foreign ministers will meet in July in New Delhi.