New Delhi rendezvous: Under JuD’s shadow, Singh accepts Pakistan invitation

Published: April 9, 2012

President Zardari carries a traditional offering at the Ajmer shrine. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DEHLI: 

Indian Premier Manmohan Singh has accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan but renewed his country’s demand that Islamabad prosecute the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai siege – a clear reference to Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.

Singh made the demand on Sunday during a 40-minute one-on-one meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari at the former’s Racecourse Road residence in the Indian capital.

Billed as a private affair, President Zardari’s sojourn was significant because it was the first by a Pakistani head of state to India since Gen Pervez Musharraf’s trip in 2005.

The meeting was followed by a multi-course lunch – with kebabs and curries from all over India, including the disputed region of Kashmir.

Ruling Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee were conspicuous by their absence from the lunch.

“Premier Singh told Zardari that it was imperative to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks,” India’s Foreign Secretary Rajan Mathai told journalists after the meeting.

New Delhi has blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group which it believes has since morphed into Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) charity for masterminding the deadly attacks on the Indian financial capital.

Singh, according to Mathai, also raised the continued freedom of JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed who now carries a $10 million bounty from the United States for his capture and subsequent prosecution.

In response to Singh’s demand, President Zardari said the Hafiz Saeed issue needed to be discussed further. Mathai claimed that the matter would be taken up again between the home secretaries of the two countries at an upcoming meeting.

On Friday, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani threw up the challenge that anyone with concrete proof to prosecute Saeed should present it to the courts.

Appearing with Zardari after the meeting, Premier Singh said that he had accepted an offer to visit Pakistan. “I’d be very happy to visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient date.”

However, an Indian foreign ministry source said, the timing of any visit by Singh to Pakistan will depend on issues including a conflict over the Sir Creek River estuary.

President Zardari on his part voiced hope that the Indian leader would visit his country soon. “We have spoken on all topics… and we are hoping to meet on Pakistani soil very soon,” he said.

“PM Singh’s acceptance of an offer to visit Pakistan is conditional – meaning Islamabad has to show substantive progress on elimination of terrorism,”former Indian Foreign Service official KC Singh told The Express Tribune.

“Only yesterday (Saturday) Zardari said the issue of Hafiz Saeed was not the focus of his visit. So, it is important for India to remind him how important the issue is,” he said.

Overall, the two leaders were happy with their interaction – with President Zardari calling it ‘very fruitful’ and Premier Singh saying he was ‘satisfied with the outcome’.

“We have a number of issues and we are willing to find tactical, pragmatic solutions to all those issues and that’s the message that President Zardari and I would wish to convey,” Singh said.

Indian Foreign Secretary Mathai said the two leaders discussed Kashmir as well as terrorism and trade.

“Both felt that we need to move forward step by step,” he added.

The most important aspect of Zardari’s trip was the bonding between the scions of the Bhutto and Gandhi families – Rahul Gandhi and Bilawal Bhutto. Bilawal has also invited Rahul to visit Pakistan and that invitation might be accepted sooner.

‘Lost bet’

Appearing in a television show, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said in a lighter vein that President Zardari had lost a Re1 bet.

Abdullah recalled that during his 2006 visit to Pakistan he had taken the bet with Zardari that he would not be able to visit Kashmir. “He hasn’t – and now he owes me one rupee.”

(Read: President Zardari in India)

(With additional input from AGENCIES)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • jagjit sidhoo
    Apr 9, 2012 - 7:06AM

    Inspite of all the apprehensions the two leaders could take the small baby steps . That seems to be the way to go keep talking be satisfied with small gains.

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  • raw is war
    Apr 9, 2012 - 7:08AM

    kebab diplomacy

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  • Mirza
    Apr 9, 2012 - 7:22AM

    It is time all the secular and progressive parties should come out for the peace process. It is a great step in the right direction. Hopefully the new generations would not have the hatred and baggage of pre partition. It is time for extremist and fascist forces on both sides of the border to fear.

    Recommend

  • Eleena
    Apr 9, 2012 - 7:26AM

    These two countries share same culture.Unfortunately they are enemies since the partition.
    Enemies of Pakistan and India one and the same.They never want peace between these countries.I would say some politicians from Pakistan since its creation they want India as their enemy.Because people from both sides are same in every sense.They share same culture,history, everything.If two countries are so close why two countries?can be one..
    They divided the country into two just for religion.Still why Pakistan lost Bangladesh?
    So religion is not the issue.

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  • Thoughtful
    Apr 9, 2012 - 8:01AM

    @Eleena:
    They share history as does most of the human race. I doubt they share culture beyond the superficial. Do not romanticise and gloss over the serious differences.

    Recommend

  • Senman
    Apr 9, 2012 - 8:03AM

    We in India can confidently say we abide by the decision of our PM Manmohan Singh but can the Pakistani’s can say the same about Zardari? there lies the problem. All this are all just a show nothing more.

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  • hyderabadi
    Apr 9, 2012 - 8:47AM

    @Eleena:
    Dear it is religion. Religion is a problem in Pak as everything is viewed trough religious focal. Blangadesh was to happen anyway.

    Recommend

  • Yaida M
    Apr 9, 2012 - 8:58AM

    @Eleena: Wishful thinking. But once you have made the omelette, you can’t get the eggs back. The best result will be for both nations to compete in trade and development and not fall prey to American and Chinese designs. Both America and China would not like other economic powers in the region. They would like to see India and Pakistan bogged down in wars and mutual hatred.

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  • Diggvijay Singh
    Apr 9, 2012 - 9:04AM

    We, Indians and Pakistanis, have to shed our hatred and become brothers once again. People like Hafiz Saeed and the communal RSS rowdies are the real enemy of India and Pakistan. They stop the two brothers from coming together. Our honorable, erudite Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has shown tremendous courage and magnanimity in inviting the Pakistani President to his home. Let’s take our love and friendship to the next level from here.

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  • Anjaan
    Apr 9, 2012 - 9:28AM

    Pakistan has always willingly played into the hands of the Anglo-Americans to be their pawn to scuttle Russia, India in all possible ways, in return for the dollars and the weapons.

    Therefore it is Pakistan which can change the regional issues bilaterally, but only when its gives up being a pawn of the west.Recommend

  • umair
    Apr 9, 2012 - 9:29AM

    I wonder if Hafiz Saeed receives Manmohan Singh and they should have one on one talk for peace ;)

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  • American Pakistani
    Apr 9, 2012 - 9:43AM

    I am so disappointed. More than a hundred soldiers are buried under ice today and 67 years later they are still “talking” over kobabs. This has to be the saddest of human conflicts across the world.

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  • kaalchakra
    Apr 9, 2012 - 9:48AM

    When zardari returns home, he must be asked to explain why he did not defend the pride of Pakistan Professor Saeed Hafiz – a most charitable man – more vigorously. At least he should have refuted all fake evidence India has concocted against him.

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  • Abid Javed
    Apr 9, 2012 - 10:32AM

    errrr………. Whats the frigging point of Bilawal Bhutto visiting INDIA?

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  • Beatle
    Apr 9, 2012 - 10:51AM

    @umair:
    Hafiz Saeed and Peace? Wishful Thinking !!!!!!!!!!!

    Recommend

  • Zabandraz
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:12AM

    What about Dr.Chisti???

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  • major-ji
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:56AM

    “and now he owes me one rupee.” Der Omar Abdullah when you at all get this historic Re 1 either coin or note please donate it to me.

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  • Salman Orangiwala
    Apr 9, 2012 - 12:01PM

    @Abid Javed , are you out of your mind Sir ? He “is” the futture “Head of State ‘ of this land of pure ? How do you suppose he would learn the tricks or treats of the “business” without indulging in “these” luxury trips .

    Recommend

  • hyderabadi
    Apr 9, 2012 - 12:29PM

    @American Pakistani:
    If it is so saddening when why are in the devil’s country,aka US? Sitting far away and preaching how things should be done does not look good mr Pakistan.

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  • aliz
    Apr 9, 2012 - 12:59PM

    Count Down of Zardari begins

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  • Apr 9, 2012 - 1:36PM

    No break through was expected, so stop whining trolls

    Recommend

  • Tony Singh
    Apr 9, 2012 - 5:15PM

    @Eleena:
    Siblings make the worst of enemies! France- Germany, North Korea – South Korea, Iran -Iraq, the list is endless.

    Recommend

  • Abbas, ZA
    Apr 10, 2012 - 11:05AM

    @Yaida M: so WHO has been falling to prey to American designs over the last 60 years….common sense is required for arguement…..Something has to be right for Pakistan to have a future. Some stand on some issues. Except religion it society does not have stand on anything…

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