New Delhi underlines need for Islamabad to have a non-segmented approach to terror
India and Pakistan on Thursday managed to talk to each other on issues sensitive to both countries, without allowing any one issue to derail the re-engagement that has begun after 17 months.
But, as both countries gingerly returned to the negotiating table, there was an acknowledgement of ground realities — Pakistan's battle with terror at home and the difficulty India would have in staying the course in the wake of another Mumbai-like attack.
The talks, according to Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, provided an opportunity to talk to each other “and not at each other.” However, she, like her counterpart Salman Bashir, refused to dwell on the specifics, with both maintaining that their mandate was to only set the agenda for the ministerial engagement.
Official sources maintained that the focus was on identifying doables, which includes cross-Line of Control confidence building measures, especially people-to-people contact.
On terrorism, India is said to have reiterated the need for the Mumbai terror trial in Pakistan to proceed in a manner that ensures justice is done, because public opinion in India continues to be agitated over that attack. While conceding that Pakistan was going through a terror-infested phase, Indian official sources said New Delhi underlined the need for Islamabad to have a non-segmented approach to terror.
With specific reference to Jama'at-ud-Da'wah chief Hafiz Saeed, India said there was a need to rein him in, particularly in the light of his anti-India propaganda. While Pakistan said it did not have enough evidence to keep him behind bars, the Indian contention was that his anti-India rhetoric was detrimental to the dialogue process.
When contentious issues were raised, both sides were careful not to make them the focus of the discussion. Each heard the other side out and tried to appreciate the limitations of the other. India articulated its concerns over attacks on its facilities in Afghanistan, pointing out that these assets are purely developmental and should not be allowed to create bad blood between the two countries. Pakistan, according to Indian officials, maintained that it was not against India-Afghanistan relations.
As to where this process was headed, the Indian contention was that New Delhi would not force the pace. “We are ready to move when Pakistan is,” said Indian officials; echoing Ms. Rao's point that the destiny of the two countries is linked.
Amid growing acknowledgement of dialogue being the best way forward crops up the question in the Indian camp if prolonged non-engagement was creating leverages for India.