With the stage set for a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York, India has said it will ask its neighbour to fix the accountability for the 26/11 terror attack that left 166 people dead.
“The work that we have done on this meeting (between Dr. Singh and Mr. Sharif) includes conveying the expectation of some signal, addressing our concerns, which essentially are accountability for 26/11, people who are involved in planning and executing, who happen to be either in the custody of Pakistan or on their soil. We are looking for accountability,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters in New York.
He, however, voiced caution and said the meeting between the two Prime Ministers should not be expected to address all issues and concerns.
“For us to expect that we will get complete satisfaction in one meeting obviously would be too much to expect but we are expecting, hoping and really we deserve movement on issues that are of great importance both to the government and people of our country,” he said on Wednesday.
Pak judicial commission
Mr. Khurshid said India has facilitated the visit of an eight-member Pakistani judicial commission which will cross examine Indian witnesses and it expects that the evidence collected would now be admissible in Pakistani courts.
He also described as a “good signal” the decision by Pakistan to appoint a new prosecutor to replace late Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali of the Federal Investigation Agency who was assassinated by militants in Islamabad in May.
“We hope that this will be an appropriate impetus for the matter to proceed with expedition because it is very important,” he said.
Mr. Khurshid, however, said that still lots need to be done to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage to justice.
“This is a beginning. There is now no reason why the case cannot proceed more effectively. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There will have to be many steps to be taken.”
Concerns over continued terrorism
Dr. Singh is also expected to convey to Mr. Sharif concerns over continued terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
“One critical thing for us is dismantling of the infrastructure on terrorism, it is very significant, something that has been going on for a long time in terms of engagement,” Mr. Khurshid said.
“If they have a problem with terrorism at their end, this should really be an incentive for them to come transparently and talk to us, find a joint approach to tackling terrorism...the terrorism that is directed towards India is what we are immediately concerned about.”
Before departing from India, Dr. Singh announced that he was “looking forward” to meeting Mr. Sharif in New York on Sunday, ending days of speculation over whether they would meet in U.S. on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Sharif happy to meet Manmohan
Mr. Sharif also said he would be “very happy” to meet Dr. Singh and “pick up the threads from where we left in 1999.”
Mr. Khurshid said the decision by Dr. Singh to meet “will obviously mean an important signal in response to the efforts made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan for a meeting.”
“We have always consistently said it is important that the atmospherics be appropriate. The atmospherics show a clear indication of desire to overcome the elements of negative nature that we have had to encounter over the past few months,” he added.
Discussion on whole range of issues
Meanwhile, a senior Pakistani official said Pakistani and Indian prime ministers will discuss a whole range of issues in their meeting, expected to take place on September 29.
“Pakistan believes in the policy of dialogue. The dialogue should remain uninterrupted,” the Pakistani media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry as saying.
“All issues (between the two countries) are important” and would be discussed.
Mr. Chaudhry noted terrorism is as much an issue of concern to Pakistan as it is to India. He said tackling terrorism would be effective, if the two countries work together.
He expressed hope that the meeting would serve to set guidelines for resuming peace process. “We hope composite dialogue process would be resumed,” he added.