Pakistan has indicated some movement in prosecuting its nationals charged with masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, thus moving a step towards creating the right atmosphere sought by India for a meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries later this month in New York.
“This is a positive step and we welcome it,’’ noted External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
New Delhi and Islamabad also agreed on Friday on effectively implementing measures to ensure peace and tranquillity on the Line of Control (LoC), a formulation that meets mid-way India’s sense of hurt over the killing of its soldiers as well as Pakistan’s claim that both sides are victims when soldiers fire at each other. India claims seven deaths this year while Pakistan says eight of its men were killed.
At an early morning meeting with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz mentioned the appointment of a new public prosecutor for the trial of seven men accused of training and guiding the Mumbai attackers. The two leaders also had a long session on Thursday night at the pre-Shanghai Cooperation Summit dinner here when they found themselves at the same table.
He also informed the Pakistan Judicial Commission’s intention to visit India on September 23 – less than a week before the two PMs meet in New York – to cross-examine some officials handling the Mumbai terror case. A Pakistani court had thrown out the evidence collected during the commission’s earlier visit to India. The commission will now cross-examine officials in Mumbai to correct the lacunae.
The development could go some way towards assuaging India’s sense of hurt over Pakistan’s feet-dragging over dealing with issues relating to terrorism, as reported by The Hindu a day earlier. Mr. Khurshid had said Pakistan must indicate tangible progress on meeting some of India’s concerns, prime among them being effective and speedy prosecution of the Pakistanis behind the 2008 attacks.
Talking to journalists after meeting Mr. Aziz at a dacha (country house) both are sharing in the vast presidential complex here, Mr. Khurshid expressed his satisfaction at the promise, but hoped the evidence would be such that the Pakistani court would be able to do something substantial.
Mr. Aziz welcomed Mr. Khurshid’s expression of satisfaction over the assurances and, quoting the Indian Minister, hoped both sides would muzzle their guns on the LoC to maintain the ceasefire agreed upon in 2003.
Mr. Khurshid stressed on more effective utilisation of the mechanism to dampen aggression on the LoC, as peace and tranquillity along the disputed border was the most critical confidence enhancing measure between the two countries. “We have a few days, let us see how it shapes up,’’ he said.
Mr. Aziz fleshed out Mr. Khurshid’s observations by drawing attention to the two existing mechanisms – two senior military officers talk every Tuesday and a Joint Working Group on Cross LoC CBMs at level of Joint Secretaries. He also conveyed Pakistan’s concern and disappointment over the loss in momentum created by the two Prime Ministers following last month’s killings of soldiers. “I also emphasised that the objective of establishing durable peace in South Asia is of such paramount importance that it should not be held hostage to electoral politics or the process allowed to be derailed by a single incident,’’ he said.