Pakistan’s attitude towards tackling terror has “altered” and India should take note of this “concrete” development, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said.
“I think the prism through which they see this issue has definitely been altered,” Ms. Rao told Karan Thapar on “Devil’s Advocate” programme on CNN-IBN.
She was replying to a question whether India saw a change in Pakistan’s attitude towards terrorism during the recently concluded Foreign Secretary-level talks.
Asked whether it was a positive development, Ms. Rao said it was an outcome that India must take note of.
“I think when they speak of the fact that non-state elements in this relationship need to be tackled, that we must look at safe havens and sanctuaries that we must look at fake currency, we must look at all the aspects that are concerned with the business of terror, I think that is a concrete development.” Ms. Rao, however, said she would not expect Pakistani officials to talk about the strategic link between the Pakistani state and militancy and terror.
Asked whether her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir accepted the revelations made by Mumbai attacks case accused David Headley in a Chicago trial court, she said the strategic link between the Pakistani state and militancy and terror needed to be broken.
“Well, he is not going to say that in so many words to me. I think it would be unrealistic for me to expect that the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan is going to say that,” she said when asked whether Mr. Bashir admitted to the strategic link between the Pakistani state and terror outfits.
Ms. Rao said she did discuss Headley’s revelations about the ISI’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks and told Mr. Bashir that India wanted satisfactory answers on these linkages. “But let me say that the fact that we are discussing the threat, the scourge, the evil of terrorism and the fact that it has ramifications that extend into the entire region, I think is a development we must take note of.”
The Foreign Secretary rejected suggestions that she was generous towards Pakistan. “That is not my interpretation and I do not believe that is the way diplomatic negotiations are transacted. I think we have to be realistic. We have to understand the difficulties in the terrain.”
Ms. Rao said her talks with Mr. Bashir did not focus just on the 26/11 trail. “ … We also discussed peace and security, we discussed the issue of Kashmir, which has always formed a part of the dialogue, let me say that.”
She indicated that the 26/11 trial was being discussed at the Home Secretary-level. “They have had a good round of talks. There are outcomes from those talks. There is follow-up actually in process at the moment.” India had “adequately communicated” to Pakistan that it expected to see progress in the 26/11 trial and “we need concrete results.”
“I have said it and I say it again we do need closure on all these issues. These are issues of paramount concern to India and very legitimately so. And I think Pakistan is fully aware of this.
“The rounds of talks that we have had in recent months, and I refer especially to the Home Secretary-level talks, have served the purpose of communicating and articulating these concerns very graphically to the Pakistanis.”
Noting that India had sustained dialogue with Pakistan on 26/11, she said concrete results seemed to be very far off. “We have not seen anything actually happening on the Mumbai trial and that is the point of great concern to us. But let me ask you a question. Does it mean that dialogue is not an option that we should pursue with Pakistan?”
Ms. Rao said policymaking needed to be looked at in a dynamic situation. “I do not think you are making policy in a laboratory. You take into account the surrounding environment. You take into account the success of a certain approach or not. “Did that approach [of not talking] yield too many dividends? Well, you have to make your assessment of that. I think the decision to re-engage with Pakistan and to talk about the issues that divide us, that create a gulf between us, to reduce the trust deficit, as the two Prime Ministers said, I think is a very realistic approach to dealing with problems with Pakistan.”
She agreed with the former Home Secretary, G.K. Pillai’s assessment that the 26/11 trial had not moved an inch. “Well, it depends on how you look at it. From one angle certainly it has not moved an inch. I am not denying that. There has been a very glacial pace to this whole process as far as the 26/11 trials are concerned. But let me tell you what kind of feedback we got from the Pakistanis at this round. And they spoke of the need to discuss all the serious and substantive issues between the two countries and that terrorism was at the forefront of this,” Ms. Rao said. Hindu