Mandate to assess Pakistan's pledge to stop terrorists using its soil against India

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram will travel to Pakistan next week armed with a mandate to brief his counterpart there about some of the information Indian investigators have gleaned from their recent interrogation in Chicago of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley.

At its meeting here on Sunday night, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) once again endorsed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's broad approach towards trust-building and dialogue with Pakistan, highly placed sources told The Hindu. Mr. Chidambaram, who will travel to Pakistan on June 25 for a meeting of Saarc Interior Ministers, will also have a bilateral meeting with the Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik on the sidelines.

“He is not going there to talk about the resumption of dialogue,” the sources said, “but the CCS has asked him to update Mr. Malik on what all has happened in India on the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack.” In addition, he will brief the Pakistani side about some of the disclosures Headley has made about his connections with LeT handlers and others, most probably in a one-on-one meeting without the presence of other officials.

The ‘voluminous' documentation India handed over to Pakistan last week contains detailed responses to all the questions which Islamabad had raised in a set of dossiers on April 25, official sources said. In those, Pakistan had made certain requests for information and testimony that it said were required in order to properly prosecute the LeT men standing trial in a Rawalpindi court for their role in the Mumbai attack. “We have sent them all the documentation to do with the confession of Ajmal Kasab, including from the magistrate and investigating officer, and we feel it is not necessary for them to appear in court in Pakistan,” the sources said. “Let us see what their response is.” In its latest dossier, India has also cited specific provisions of the Indian Penal Code that it believes LeT chief Hafiz Saeed has violated, including waging war.

Based on Mr. Chidambaram's interaction with the Pakistani side, the government would be in a better position to assess how sincere Islamabad is being in implementing the commitment Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani made to Dr. Singh in Thimphu in April about not allowing anti-India terrorists to use Pakistan's soil to stage attacks, the sources said.

Asked whether some kind of interaction between the National Investigation Agency and Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency could help build trust, the sources said the response Mr. Chidambaram got “would help us to focus on what steps we could take to build trust at the institutional level.” What India wanted was “productive engagement,” something that was absent from the erstwhile Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism, they added.

The sources said the Indian side was not going to Pakistan “with a digital scale in [its hand].” “We are genuine when we say dialogue should resume and concerns on terror should be dealt with … Let us not prejudge the outcome.”

Open mind

Asked about Kashmir, the sources said India had an open mind and was “fully prepared to discuss contentious issues if Pakistan raises them, with confidence.” They stressed that all issues fell within the scope of the Foreign Secretary-level discussions that would take place on June 24. “Whether it is water, peace and security, confidence building measures … We are looking at the whole relationship as an integrated subject.”