NEW DEHLI: Indian Premier Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Pakistan sometime between October and December this year, but the trip is not unconditional, top Indian government officials say.
India has made it clear that it will first assess Pakistan’s progress in the trial and conviction of the seven suspects allegedly involved in the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
The list of seven suspects believed to be behind the planning, execution and financing the attacks, includes Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. The accused are currently under custody in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.
Though India has repeatedly lauded the US announcement of a bounty on Hafiz Saeed, it has conceded that the reward is for ‘events leading to his arrest.’ This means it is now making a clear distinction between Saeed and the seven others, against whom, India believes, there is enough evidence.
Officials in the Indian government said the state has given all the evidence “and leads” to Pakistan regarding Saeed and it is now up to the latter to investigate. It is clear that there is a growing sense in India about Saeed’s case being quite weak. But it is now up to Pakistan to appease its neighbour by working towards the prosecution of the other seven.
Indian minister for water resources Pawan Bansal, who was one of President Zardari’s escorts during his Ajmer trip on Sunday, said the two leaders also discussed the movement of water between the two states in their one-on-one talks.
“I found President Zardari to be extremely friendly, informal and courteous,” said Bansal. He said the two discussed water problems extensively and realised how similar their management issues were.
Singh’s acceptance of the invitation has set the administrative machineries of both countries into motion. The High Commissioner of India to Pakistan Sharat Sabbarwal is due to retire in September, but he is likely to get an extension in the wake of recent developments.
Pakistan’s ambassador to India Shahid Malik is also due to be replaced, but his tenure might be extended. The same holds for Indian joint secretary handling the Pakistan desk in the ministry of external affairs, Yash Sinha.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2012.