“Exercise aimed at reducing the trust deficit”
Days before the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan are to meet in Islamabad, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna counselled against expecting quick results and indicated that terror would remain firmly on India's agenda despite voices to the contrary from across the border.
As the current dialogue process is called the “Thimphu spirit,” Mr. Krishna said both sides should “keep cool” like the weather at the venue of the ice-breaking talks between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in April last.
Mr. Krishna told journalists before leaving for Myanmar that India's approach would be to remain patient, realistic and positive as the whole exercise was aimed at reducing the trust deficit. The “central point” would be asking Pakistan to deal firmly with the menace of terrorism and eliminate all sanctuaries for terrorists on its soil.
Asked whether India would take up the issue of extradition of fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, Mr. Krishna said since Dawood was one of the persons wanted by the government for having masterminded heinous crimes, “we will keep pursuing that.”
On David Headley's ISI links, Mr. Krishna said, “Whatever Headley has revealed under oath in court of law in Chicago would be relevant for India to take it up and then try to get Pakistan's response to that. Certainly, we will take it up.”
The Minister termed the aggressive behaviour by Indian and Pakistani warships on the high seas an “isolated” incident which “doesn't help.” India had conveyed its unhappiness over such an incident taking place ahead of the talks and the Minister was optimistic of both sides clearing any “misunderstanding” that led to the two warships coming dangerously close to each other.
“The several rounds of talks at various levels over the past two years have led to a better understanding of each other's positions. We have always approached our discussions in an open and constructive spirit,” Mr. Krishna said.
But he was disappointed over the slow pace of Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan. “I think it is a sad commentary of what is happening there. Whatever occasion we get to interact with the leadership of Pakistan, we always convey it that it is necessary that trial should be hastened.”
“I hope Pakistan realises how serious the Indian view is on this particular question. Our trial has concluded and the appeal is pending with the Supreme Court. Whereas, the trial virtually has not even started in Pakistan, I think even the examination of the witnesses have not begun yet.”