India has indicated its willingness to normalise ties with Pakistan following indications that Islamabad is serious about prosecuting the masterminds of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. The first step in this direction would be the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s end of the month visit to Rawalpindi to attend a meeting of SAARC Ministers where he could “get a chance to have useful exchanges” with Pakistani leaders in addition to the planned multilateral meetings, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told newspersons accompanying him for a visit to Kuwait.
Taking note of Pakistan’s readiness to accept the lone surviving gunman’s confessional statement as evidence to prosecute the planners of the Mumbai attacks and other evidence with respect to boats used to ferry the attackers from Karachi, Mr. Krishna said India interpreted these as constructive signals. “Any step forward in the direction of Pakistan also investigating the Mumbai attacks will certainly make it easier for India to carry out normalisation of business with Pakistan,” observed Mr. Krishna.
Asked whether India would move in the direction of reviving the composite dialogue if Pakistan continued to show resolve to bring to book its nationals involved in the Mumbai attacks, the Minister felt “India should be quite satisfied with Pakistan taking a few steps to investigate the Mumbai attacks”. He hoped Pakistan would continue to focus its attention on rooting out elements plotting violence in India and termed such an attitude as “extra helpful” to Indo-Pak bilateral relations and dialogue.
The External Affairs Minister had given indications of the possibility of a change in India’s position a day earlier when he said the “doors were not closed” to talks with Pakistan but it should continue to demonstrate its steadfastness to combating anti-India formations.
India had broken off all talks with Pakistan immediately after the Mumbai terror attacks but unlike the rift in bilateral ties after the Parliament House attacks in December 2001, it had not sundered people-to-people and trade links in the hope that the Pakistani leadership would also take the fight against terrorism to its eastern borders with India.