Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Thursday told her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir that India had “all along believed” in resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue. “If we are to build upon the past discussions at an appropriate time, trust and confidence between us must be restored,” she said at a news conference.
“We went into today’s [Thursday’s] talks with an open mind, but fully conscious of the limitations imposed by the large trust deficit between the two countries. In line with our graduated and step-by-step approach, our aims were modest; we had a useful discussion, during which I spelt out forthrightly our concerns on terrorism emanating from Pakistan against India,” she observed.
India’s invitation to the Pakistan Foreign Secretary, she said, was in keeping with the Government of India’s firm conviction that it must not shut the door on dialogue. “Such dialogue, if it gathers momentum, holds tremendous potential for the progress and well-being of the people of our region. The sincere and genuine efforts we have made in past years in this direction have, however, been repeatedly thwarted by acts of terrorism, culminating in the barbaric attack in Mumbai,” she regretted.
The Mumbai attack erased the trust and confidence the two countries had painstakingly built between 2004 and 2007. The recent Pune attack, which is still under investigation, “is yet another reminder that our citizens remain vulnerable to terrorist violence,” Ms. Rao said.
“I told my Pakistani counterpart that terrorism cannot advance any cause, but the cause of senseless violence and that it is the solemn duty of states to eliminate all terrorist groups, operating from their soil, regardless of their ideology or agenda,” she said while acknowledging the steps taken so far by Pakistan to bring the Mumbai perpetrators to book.
“I pointed out that these did not go far enough to unravel the full conspiracy behind the Mumbai attack and to award exemplary punishment to all culprits. I stressed the importance of expeditious action by Pakistan on these issues, including by following up on the leads that have emerged following the arrest in the United States of David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana.”
India felt that the Mumbai attack was a symptom of a larger problem — the continued existence and unhindered activities of organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud Dawa and the Hizbul Mujahideen from Pakistani territory and territory under Pakistan’s control to perpetrate terrorist violence against India.
“This was ample evidence during the rallies held by these organisations in major cities of Pakistan and PoK [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] on February 5, which openly incited terrorist violence against India. It was emphasised that the Government of India could not but take serious note of such actions as it was duty-bound to ensure the security of its citizens.”
India, she pointed out, said at the talks that it was the duty of the Pakistan government to take effective action to dismantle all such organisations and put an end to their activities. The issue of terrorist infiltration and ceasefire violations across the Line of Control and International Border was also taken up. “We called upon Pakistan to investigate the claim made by a hitherto unknown organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba Al Almi, and a separate claim by Ilyas Kashmiri owning responsibility for the recent Pune blast. Additional information on terrorist activities against India emanating from Pakistan was also handed over to the Pakistani side for investigation and appropriate action.”
“We have set out to take a first step towards rebuilding trust and I believe my meeting with the Pakistan Foreign Secretary has constituted that first step. We have agreed to remain in touch and continue endeavour to restore trust. It was also decided to address urgent humanitarian matters,” Ms. Rao said.