07/14/2008, 00.00
INDIA – PAKISTAN
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India blames Pakistan for Kabul bombing but continues peace talks

by Nirmala Carvalho
India and Afghanistan hold Pakistan’s secret services responsible for the bombing against the Indian embassy in Kabul. Pakistan denies the charges. Both sides confirm a meeting this Friday for talks to improve trade and visits between the two sides of the disputed Kashmir territory.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – India and Pakistan are expected to give a push to confidence building measures, including trade, along the Kashmir line of control when senior officials of the two countries meet in Islamabad on 18 July. The meeting will take place despite Indian charges that Pakistan's ISI intelligence service is to blame for the suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on 7 July (see photo) that killed 41, including 2 Indian diplomats.

The two countries are expected to discuss intra-Kashmir trade, the creation of border contact points to enable people from two sides of Jammu and Kashmir to meet more easily, the launch of a truck service between Srinagar on the Indian side of the line of control and Musaffarabad on the Pakistani side and the establishment of bus services between Kargil-Skardu and Jammu-Sialkot.

“We have no doubt that the ISI [Pakistan’s intelligence service] is behind this,” Indian National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan told an Indian TV station. “We are in the favour of the peace process, but the ISI is not in any way part of it. [. . .] The ISI needs to be destroyed.”

Afghan authorities also hinted that the ISI had a role in the bombing. An Afghan spokesman said the attack bore the “hallmarks of a particular intelligence agency.”

India has close ties with Afghanistan, where it has pledged about US$ 750 million towards rebuilding the war-ravaged country. Some analysts think Pakistan is increasingly wary of ceding influence to India and that the attack may be intended to reduce India’s role and influence in the country.

Pakistan immediately denied the charges. For Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar it was unfair for India to blame Pakistan without any solid evidence. However, he also said that such baseless allegations would not affect Pakistan-India relations, especially when efforts are being made to improve ties.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. There is no peace treaty between the two rivals, and they decided to resume talks only in 2004.

Despite his misgivings about the ISI, Mr Narayanan said he hoped peace talks “would continue”.

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