Nawaz Sharif’s special advisor and foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz to visit India, hints at easing tension….reports Asian Lite News
Pakistan´s foreign policy chief, Sartaj Aziz, has said he will travel to India early next month for the Heart of Asia Conference, describing it as a “good opportunity to defuse the tension” between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
“Unlike India, that had sabotaged the Saarc summit in Pakistan by pulling out, Pakistan will respond by participating in the Heart of Asia being held in Amritsar, India, on December 3,” confirmed Aziz to PTV news on Tuesday.
The adviser said he himself will participate in the conference.
Aziz, however, said it has not been confirmed yet whether he will meet his Indian counterpart on the sidelines of the conference or not.
“Despite the fact that Indian forces killed our seven soldiers along the Line of Control on Monday, Pakistan will not boycott the conference,” Aziz maintained.
Aziz’s trip to India would be the first by a senior Pakistani official since terrorists attacked an army camp in Uri, in Jammu and Kashmir, on September 18, killing 19 soldiers. India has blamed the attack on Pakistan-based terrorists.
India retaliated with cross-border “surgical strikes on terror launch pads” later in September, and claimed several casualties. Islamabad has denied the cross-border raids by India.
Since then, heavy shelling and firing across the simmering Line of Control has led to deaths of civilians and soldiers. On Monday, in a rare admission, Pakistan stated that seven of its soldiers were killed in overnight firing by India on the LoC.
In recent weeks, both Islamabad and Delhi have expelled each other’s diplomats, accusing them of spying, in tit-for-tat moves.
The Heart of Asia conference focusing on Afghanistan is due to be held in Amritsar, close to the Pakistani border.
The conference will seek ways to help improve security and bring peace to Afghanistan, which has been mired in conflict since a US-led coalition toppled the hardline Taliban government in 2001.
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have also been strained over the past year, with Kabul accusing Islamabad of harbouring the leaders of Taliban and seeking to meddle in Afghan affairs.
Pakistan denies the charge. “Heart of Asia is for Afghanistan and Afghanistan is our priority,” said Aziz.
The Money Trail
Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) alleged key operative Abdul Wahid Siddibapa channelised funds from Pakistan to India via Dubai for conducting terror activities in the country, the National Investigation Agency said in its chargesheet.
“The role and involvement of the accused, Abdul Wahi Siddibapa alias Khan alias Hafeez, has been established during the investigation as a channeliser of the funds received from IM operatives in Pakistan via Dubai for use by IM operatives based in India for conducting terrorist activities,” the chargesheet said.
The NIA on Tuesday filed before Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Pandit the third supplementary chargesheet against Siddibapa.
The court on Wednesday took cognizance of the fresh chargesheet and posted the matter for hearing on December 6.
The 32-year-old Siddibapa, a resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka and a relative of Indian Mujahideen founders Yasin Bhatkal and Riyaz Bhatkal, was arrested here in May on the charge of conspiring to carry out terror attacks in India, after he was deported from Dubai.
The NIA in its chargesheet said that Siddibapa in 2009-10 attended an IM meeting at a flat in Sharjah in which other accused in the case Iqbal Bhatkal, Afeef alias Mota Bhai, Salim Ishaqi, Sultan Armar, Mohd Hussain Farhan, Shafi Armar and one Pakistani doctor were also present.
“The aim of meeting was to assign specific task to the IM operative for smooth functioning of the IM organisation,” the chargesheet said.
The NIA has chargesheeted Siddibapa under various offences dealing with sections 121A (waging war against the Government of India) and Section 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war) of Indian Penal Code and under provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Siddibapa was also wanted for his alleged involvement in the July 2006 Mumbai serial blasts, the 2008 Delhi blasts and the 2010 Chinnaswamy Stadium blast in Bengaluru.
A Red Corner notice was issued against him in December 2013.
He left for Dubai much before the crackdown on the Indian Mujahideen started in 2008. He was detained in the United Arab Emirates and arrested in January 2014.