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Updated: June 22, 2010 16:47 IST

India shifts from 'accusatory' to 'exploratory' mode

Siddharth Varadarajan
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The Hindu

India remains wary of reports that there could be further attacks on Indian interests in Afghanistan or on Indian soil, emanating from terrorists in Pakistan, official sources said

In the strongest indication to date of India's willingness to pick up the threads of dialogue blown aside by terrorists in 2008, official sources said on Sunday that “a clear signal” from Pakistan of its willingness to build on progress made by the two countries earlier would “be a big trust building step.”

Briefing reporters, official sources said the Manmohan Singh government was looking at next week's meetings between the Foreign Secretaries and Home Ministers of India and Pakistan as a trust building exercise that could allow substantial progress to be made on terrorism and all contentious issues bedevilling the relationship.

They said P. Chidambaram and Nirupama Rao would not be going to Islamabad “in an accusatory mode but an exploratory one.” Ms. Rao will meet with her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir, on June 24, while Mr. Chidambaram, who is travelling to Pakistan for the SAARC Interior Ministers meeting, will sit with Rehman Malik on June 26.

“At the core of our concerns in terrorism, this is very real and has not diminished,” the sources stressed. “But as we have said all along, this is a relationship between neighbours, and dialogue becomes necessary to convey concerns and impress upon the other side where we stand on various issues.”

India remains wary of reports that there could be further attacks on Indian interests in Afghanistan or on Indian soil, emanating from terrorists in Pakistan. Islamabad has a responsibility to ensure these don't take place, the sources said, adding: “You may say the two sides should cooperate to ensure this. But at the level of institutions of government, this is where the lack of trust is a problem.”

Amplifying the bullish account of progress made between 2004 and 2007 in a recent speech by Ms. Rao, the sources said that if the civilian government in Pakistan acknowledged what had been accomplished through the back channel and various CBMs and was ready to take that process forward, this would give big boost to trust building. “We have to see if they are willing to do that.”

The sources said that while Mr. Chidambaram would focus on the action India would like Pakistan to take against the conspirators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks as well as against the wider network of anti-India terror groups, Ms. Rao would look at steps that could be put in place to reduce the trust deficit, “even if they are modest.” These would include humanitarian issues such as the convening of a meeting of the India-Pakistan judicial commission, which deals with prisoners, people to people contact and cross-Line of Control CBMs.

Keywords: SAARCIndo-Pak talks

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