Self-confessed Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Coleman Headley's ongoing court testimony — in which he has implicated individuals allegedly connected to Pakistan's intelligence agency in the November 2008 terror attack on Mumbai — has not brought out anything India did not already know, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday.
He also said he would continue to use the bilateral dialogue process to press home the demand that Islamabad take action to curb the activities of jihadi groups and would also mobilise world opinion to ensure the “terror machinery” in Pakistan was effectively controlled.
Speaking to journalists on his way back from a week-long visit to Africa, Dr. Singh said that even though the Headley trial had not brought out anything new, his government would study the proceedings once it was over. But he gave no indication that a rethink of the current dialogue-based policy towards Pakistan was on the cards. “It goes without saying that we must use every possible opportunity to talk to Pakistan and convince them that terror as an instrument of state policy is simply not acceptable to people in the civilised world as a whole. And as Pakistan's neighbour, we have great worries about the terror machine that is still intact [there].”
The Prime Minister said India had to work on two fronts. “One is the bilateral negotiations with Pakistan. We must convince the Pakistani leadership that it is in their own interest that they must help us in tackling the problem of terror in our region, and that those jihadi groups who target India [are] ... effectively curbed and dealt with.” This was an ongoing process and India must use every opportunity it gets to drive home this point, he said.
The second front was global: “The world has seen as never before that the epicentre of terror is in our neighbourhood, they appreciate India's worry, and it should be our effort to mobilise world opinion to ensure that this terror machine, which operates in our neighbourhood in Pakistan, is brought under effective control.”
In the wake of the recent terrorist attack on a naval base in Karachi, Dr. Singh said he hoped that Pakistan would now recognise that “the monster of terrorism which they unleashed at one time is hurting them as much as it can hurt our country.” The more he saw what was happening there, he added, the more convinced he was that Pakistan's leaders “must now wake up and recognise that that the terror machine that they, or at least some elements of that country, have patronised is not working to anybody's advantage.”
Asked whether he was considering a visit to Pakistan this year, he said he had not made up his mind on that yet. “But I have always believed that good relations between India and all its neighbours are very desirable and essential for us in South Asia to realise our development ambitions.”