June 27, 2010
Islamabad: Singalling a step forward, Pakistan Saturday indicated its willingness to provide voice samples of the handlers of the Mumbai attacks and said that the investigating agencies of the two countries will work together to prevent any future 26/11-like attack.
Turning the spotlight firmly on its continuing concerns over cross-border terror, India conveyed to Pakistan that more people were behind the Mumabi terror spree and asked for "visible" action against those involved in 26/11 that led to the suspension of the composite dialogue between the two countries.
In a joint press interaction with Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik suggested that its Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) and India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) work together on the issue of terrorism, including on the Mumbai terror attack.
"We will like our FIA and CBI to interact with each other in matters of terrorism including the Mumbai attacks," Malik said.
"We have resolved together that both agencies from India and Pakistan will be working together and we will not allow any such incident in future," he replied when asked about India’s contention that another 26/11 would derail the resumed dialogue process.
Both ministers struck a positive and hopeful note on the course of future engagement.
"I will leave tomorrow with the conviction that we have both exchanged views, we both understand the requirements of the situation," said Chidambaram about his talks with Malik here Friday evening.
"We both agreed that we shall address the situation with seriousness it deserves. So I go back with confidence that the outcome of our meeting and interaction will be very good for both the countries," he said.
"Nobody is questioning anyone’s intention. It is the outcome that will decide whether we have the right track," Chidambaram replied when asked about the slow pace of the probe and trial by Pakistan in the 26/11 case.
"Let the outcomes be visible. We have agreed that there are certain outcomes we are looking forward to."
Malik, on his part, promised to bring the Mumbai trial to its logical conclusion. "Our resolve is against terrorism and the resolve is to take the Mumbai attack terrorists, criminals to their logical conclusion."
"We are both against the acts of terrorism and we will work together to clear this menace in this region," he said.
Addressing a press conference separately, Malik said that Pakistan "will provide every possible assistance in addition to what you are talking about - voice samples".
In a hard-hitting reminder to Pakistan to come clean on the Mumbai attacks, Chidambaram said: "We think more people were behind the Mumbai attack and more people should be prosecuted."
"That point has been made to the Pakistan government and I wish to remain positive on the outcome of the meeting with Rehman Malik," he said.
Without going into specifics, Malik told journalists: "What we have discussed we should have discussed. The idea is to strike heavily against terrorists. We will take India into confidence."
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had a separate meeting with Chidambaram, assured India that his country would move with "full force" against terrorists.
Saying terrorists wanted to derail the dialogue between India and Pakistan, he said: "We ourselves are victims of terrorism. We should join hands to defeat the common enemy."
India called off the dialogue with Pakistan after the November 26-29, 2008 Mumbai carnage that killed 166 Indians and foreigners and which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani terrorists.
After initially denying any Pakistani link to Mumbai, in which one Pakistani terrorist was caught alive, Islamabad later blamed "non-state" actors.
Chidambaram did not elaborate on what he and Malik had discussed one-on-one.
"We know seven people are being prosecuted (for Mumbai). How far this prosecution has proceeded, this is for Pakistan to tell," he said, while noting that the trial scheduled for Saturday had been adjourned for a week.
"I have conveyed whatever was unnecessary to my Pakistani counterpart, and he has conveyed whatever was necessary.
"We spoke with each other. We spoke directly to each other, and I am confident that something good will emerge out of that meeting. So, let us try to remain positive."
Pakistan, too, stressed the need to remain positive ahead of next month’s meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers, S.M. Krishna and Qureshi, in Islamabad.
Qureshi said when India suspended the dialogue with Pakistan following the Mumbai attack, the net beneficiaries were the terrorists.
"It is in our mutual interest to have tangible progress, and we will make tangible progress," he said. "I am confident these meetings will develop into positive outcomes."
In his discussions with Malik, Chidambaram impressed upon his host to address India’s core concerns over terrorism with the seriousness they deserve and asked Islamabad to take concrete action against the Mumbai attackers and their handlers in Pakistan.
Building on the June 24 talks between the two foreign secretaries in Islamabad, Chidambaram sought concrete action against Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of 26/11, he sought the evidence presented by the Pakistan government against Saeed. Islamabad had earlier cited legal grounds due to which Saeed could not be prosecuted.