Although India finds that Pakistan’s attitude to terrorism has changed, it believes concrete deliverables on 26/11 attack in Mumbai are still far away.
On the highly-popular television programme Devil’s Advocate, hosted by anchor Karan Thapar, the outgoing Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said that she thought the prism through which Pakistan sees the issue of terrorism has definitely been altered. She was responding to a question on whether India saw a change in Pakistan’s attitude towards terrorism during the recently concluded foreign secretary-level talks.
This formulation is a huge change from India’s position prior to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s visit to Mohali to watch the Cricket World Cup 2011 semi-final match with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and subsequent reengagement via meetings of the home secretaries and the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan.
Asked whether it was a positive development, Rao said it was an outcome that India must take note of. “I think when they (Pakistan) speak of the fact that non-state elements in this relationship need to be tackled, that we must look at safe havens and sanctuaries, that we must look at fake currency, we must look at all the aspects that are concerned with the business of terror, I think that is a concrete development,” she said.
Rao, however, said she would not expect Pakistani officials to talk about the strategic link between the Pakistani state and militancy and terror. Asked whether her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir accepted the revelations made by Mumbai attacks case accused David Headley in a Chicago trial court, Rao said: “Well, he is not going to say that in so many words to me. I think it will be unrealistic for me to expect that the foreign secretary of Pakistan is going to say that,” she said.
Rao said she did discuss Headley’s revelations about the involvement of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) in the Mumbai attacks and told Bashir that India wanted satisfactory answers on these linkages.
“But let me say that the fact that we are discussing the threat, the scourge, the evil of terrorism and the fact that it has ramifications that extend into the entire region, I think is a development we must take note of,” she said.
Rao rejected suggestions that she was being generous towards Pakistan. “I think we have to be realistic. We have to understand the difficulties in the terrain,” she said.
Rao said her talks with Bashir did not focus on just the 26/11 trial. “…We also discussed peace and security, we discussed the issue of Kashmir which has always formed a part of the dialogue.”
She said that India has “adequately communicated” to Pakistan that it expects to
see progress in the 26/11 trial and “we need concrete results”.
“We have not seen anything actually happening on the Mumbai trial and that is a point of great concern to us. But let me ask you a question. Does it mean that dialogue is not an option that we should pursue with Pakistan?” she said.
”I do not think you are making policy in a laboratory. You take into account the surrounding environment. You take into account the success of a certain approach. Did that approach (of not talking) yield too many dividends?”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2011.
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