The least Pakistan can do is to get the trial of the seven accused moving, says Khurshid

While Pakistan advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid are slated to meet on Friday, India is firm that though it has a long list of grievances, Pakistan must give a clear indication about its intent to address some of them to ensure forward movement in bilateral ties.

Mr. Khurshid hinted on Thursday that one such indication could be in the form of tangible movement in prosecuting the Pakistani masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, thus indicating that India might drop its insistence on commitments from Pakistan on the line of control (LoC), a concession Islamabad was unwilling to give because it claims no side has held back from firing at the other.

The Minister was responding to Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry confirming a meeting on Friday between him and Mr. Aziz on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting at Bishkek.

Mr. Khurshid said the least Pakistan could do was to get the trial of the seven accused moving. This could be in the form of appointing a new prosecutor and collecting admissible evidence, including a visit to India by the Pakistan Judicial Commission. Without steps like this, “for me to say enough has been done would be difficult. Despite caution from all quarters, we have a positive attitude. But there has to be some delivery,” he said.

The Minister admitted the Foreign Office has been “economical” with its response about the Indo-Pak meetings in Bishkek and New York but said this was because the speed, level and content of rapprochement hinged on the prevailing conditions and “no one would say they are good. Not even Pakistan.”

Though all eyes in Bishkek are on the Syrian crises with nine Presidents and an equal number of Foreign Ministers awaiting the late night arrival of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry in Geneva, it is a different story for the media teams from India and Pakistan.

Mr. Chaudhry told the media in Islamabad that talks between Mr. Aziz and Mr. Khurshid would focus on the overall bilateral relations between the two countries, and there was no specific agenda. This meeting assumes importance as it could pave the way for an interaction between the two Prime Ministers later this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Pakistan had extended the invitation for a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but recent events on the LoC had cast a shadow on the talks, with India holding Pakistan responsible for the deaths of five of its soldiers in August. Pakistan, too, lost some of its men including an army captain in firing incidents.

The Pakistan Judicial Commission which was to visit India as part of its investigation into the Mumbai attacks has twice postponed its visit. India also wants Pakistan to take action or hand over some of the alleged masterminds of the Mumbai attacks, including Hafiz Saeed who recently held a massive rally in Islamabad where the main agenda was Kashmir. Mr. Aziz, in a recent address to the National Assembly, said that talks between the two countries were stalled because of the LoC ceasefire violations.

As it transpires, Mr. Khurshid would have two interaction opportunities with Mr. Aziz — first at a gala dinner later on Thursday night and the next day at the SCO summit where both countries do not have a major role as both Russia and China now want to consolidate SCO instead of adding to the number of Members.