Issues relating to the probe into the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks will be taken up during the Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan scheduled for February 25, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said.

Without revealing any details, he said the “specific issues” to be taken up during the discussions were being finalised by the Indian side. The Ministry would like “pending issues” concerning the 26/11 case and investigation also to be part of it.

Asked if he favoured the talks despite the fact that Islamabad was yet to fulfil the demand for dismantling terror infrastructure, the Minister said it was the government’s decision of which he was a part.

Speaking at an interaction with women journalists here on Friday, Mr. Chidambaram said his Ministry would go through the legal process to seek access to Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Headley, now lodged in a Chicago jail.

Asked whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was holding back some crucial information from the Indian government as was being suggested by some reports, Mr. Chidambaram said the FBI had shared all vital information. “If they are holding back any information, there is no way my knowing that they are holding back any information,” he said.

On the recent terrorist attack in Pune, the Minister said there were 14 months of relative terror-free period which induced a strange passivity in India that nothing would happen. “Terror never went away. We have had our share of luck and intelligence but it is not always that we can thwart terror, as happened in Pune recently.”

Describing the Pune incident as a “blot,” the Minister said the government did have inputs about a possible strike following which “hard” targets were brought under security cover, but the terrorists chose a “soft” target.

Drop in J&K violence

Sounding a positive note, he said things on the terror front would be difficult, but we would overcome them. Citing the example of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Chidambaram said though infiltration was increasing, the level of violent incidents was coming down. “The number of people dying in violence also came down in 2009, and so much has happened on the development front.”

On the State government’s proposal to rehabilitate those who had crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the Minister said, “anyone who wants to return or infiltrate can still do it via Nepal.” Anyone who had renounced militancy could come back but there would be a thorough scrutiny, de-briefing, rehabilitation and ultimately integration with the mainstream, he said. “We have already rehabilitated surrendered militants by raising new battalions of the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force and even allowing some to join the Manipur police force. There is nothing new in the scheme,” he said, adding that the government could consider a similar demand made by some people in Punjab.

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