While Pakistan on Thursday said it was “unfair, unrealistic and counter-productive” to allow the issue of terrorism to stall the process of improving relations between the two countries, India handed over three dossiers containing names of 34 terrorists wanted here, including LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, with a demand for handing them over.
After a delegation-level meeting with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao here, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said Pakistan looks forward to reversing the “tide of regression” that has taken place in the relationship between the neighbours after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Mr. Bashir also said the core issue remained Jammu and Kashmir and expressed willingness to address and resolve outstanding issues of Siachen and Sir Creek which he believed were “do-able”.
Both Ms. Rao and Mr. Bashir held separate press meets after their three-and-a-half hour one-to-one and delegation-level talks.
While Ms. Rao said in response to a question that Kashmir figured briefly in the talks, Mr. Bashir disagreed saying it was discussed “extensively”. “It is unfair, unrealistic and counter-productive to make issue of terrorism in a generic way and stall the process of overall relations between both the countries,” Mr. Bashir said.
“To create optics of dialogue without substance means we are not taking (the) relationship seriously or dealing with (the) issues seriously,” he said. The top diplomat said his country does not believe in “cosmetic engagement” and did not want India to “lecture” them by demanding that Pakistan should “do this or that”.
He was of the view that there was a “huge gap between expectations and mistrust” that exists between both the countries today.
Meanwhile, Ms. Rao told a press conference after the talks that, “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.”
While India focused on cross-border terrorism, Pakistan raised the issue of Kashmir, Balochistan and the water dispute. The Indian side also voiced concern over the beheading of a Sikh by Taliban in Pakistan.
Noting that the trust had been “erased” by the Mumbai attacks, she said the Pune attack, which is still under investigation, “is yet another reminder that our citizens remain vulnerable to terrorist violence.”
Ms. Rao said she had told her Pakistani counterpart that “terrorism cannot advance any cause, but the cause of senseless violence” and that it was the “solemn duty” of Pakistan to “eliminate all terrorist groups, operating from their soil, regardless of their ideology or agenda.”
With regard to 26/11, India “acknowledged” the steps taken by Pakistan so far to bring perpetrators to justice, but “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.”
India conveyed its persisting concerns about the continued existence of terror infrastructure in Pakistan and “unhindered activities of organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat ud Dawa, Hizb ul Mujahideen etc., from Pakistani territory and territory under Pakistan’s control to perpetrate terrorist violence against India.”
In this regard, a reference was made to Hafiz Saeed’s provocative speech in Lahore on February 5 in which he openly incited terror violence against India. “It was emphasized that the Government of India could not but take a serious note of such actions as it was duty bound to ensure the security of its citizens,” Ms. Rao said.
Describing Mumbai attacks as “a symptom of a larger problem” of terror emanating from Pakistan, Ms. Rao said she“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 Tahawuur Hussain Rana.”
At the talks, Ms. Rao handed over to Mr. Bashir three dossiers detailing activities against India by groups and individuals based in Pakistan. The dossiers contained 34 names of those involved in Mumbai attacks and perpeptrators of other terror acts here. India demanded handing over of retired Army Major Iqbal besides Hafiz Saeed and some Lashker operatives like Muzzamil, Abu Hamza, Abu Kahfa, Usman and Sajjid Mir in connection with the Mumbai terror attacks.