Forget France and even NAM, Indian officials are getting ready for the big Pakistan meeting in Sharm-el-Sheikh...
14 July 2009
India hopes for forward movement
PARIS: On the eve of India and Pakistan’s first substantial official interaction since last November’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the Indian side accepts that Islamabad has taken “some steps” to address its concerns even as doubts persist about how deep the Pakistani establishment is prepared to go in putting the various terrorist groups operating on its territory permanently out of business. At the same time, India is hopeful the coming week will generate some forward movement in the bilateral relationship.
Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon will meet his Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir, in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt late on Tuesday night, shortly after he arrives there with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend the 15th summit of the Nonaligned Movement. The Foreign Secretaries’ interaction will, in turn, set the stage for a one-on-one meeting between Dr. Singh and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of Pakistan on Thursday morning. The Prime Minister’s official programme has set aside a block time of 90 minutes for that encounter.
Speaking on background, official sources told The Hindu that India hoped to hear what steps Pakistan had taken against those groups responsible for Mumbai and other terrorist acts and what it planned to do in the future. Describing the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief, Hafiz Saeed, as “a big part of the infrastructure of terrorism,” the sources said that action should be taken against him even if UN resolutions do not mandate his arrest because “Pakistan is obliged under its own laws and customary international law to arrest anyone who incites terrorism. Any normal, civilised society should do that.” That said, the sources stopped short of specifying the precise metric by which Pakistan’s willingness to act against terrorism would be judged other than to reiterate that the conspirators of Mumbai must be prosecuted to begin with.
The sources appreciated the recent public statements made by Pakistan’s Interior Minister but said it was too early to pronounce judgment on the dossier Islamabad had prepared.
“The dossier was handed over to us at 10:30 pm on Saturday and we are still looking at it.” On the “larger question,” the sources said, “they have taken some steps but what it amounts to is not clear.”
“There is no point in repeating history. You have to take into account what has happened since. I don’t think it is possible or reasonable to simply go back to the composite dialogue,” an official said, adding that this was his personal view.
“But then I don’t think the Pakistanis who want the resumption of dialogue are saying that is the only framework.”