Islamabad: On a two-day visit to Pakistan to attend the SAARC summit, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram held crucial meetings with his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here.
Coming out of denial, Pakistan said Saturday that it will act against the Taliban and terror groups based in its Punjab province. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that his meeting with Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram was positive.
He said that both sides have agreed to the meeting between the Intelligence chiefs of the two countries and that it was a positive development.
Other than that, Qureshi also said that Pakistan has no problem handing over voice samples of those who India accuses of perpetrating the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
“If there is a special request, we will consider it,” Qureshi told CNN-IBN. He also added that the atmosphere has been completely changed for the India-Pakistan ties.
Meanwhile the trial of seven suspects accused of involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks, including Lashker-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, has been adjourned for a week.
The next hearing is scheduled for July 3 now. Reports say this has been done apparently due to concerns that any adverse developments in the proceedings could impact ongoing talks with India. The official explanation though is that Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan is on leave.
Chidambaram got a gracious welcome from the hosts, but that didn’t stop him from talking tough on terror and demanding immediate action against the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
“There is a mountain of evidence now; the mountain is only growing thanks to the new information gathered recently. Therefore, I would expect that Pakistan acts on the information given and brings to book the real masterminds and the handlers,” Chidambaram said.
His list of demands includes action against Jamaat-ud-Daawa chief Hafiz Saeed, a mastermind of the Mumbai attacks.
“Of the seven on trial in Rawalpindi, I would put no more than two as frontline actors. There are many others who played a more important role in planning 26/11. That has been shared with Pakistan,” he added.
And, although the meeting between Chidambaram and Malik may have been tough on substance, it was cordial enough to leave room for speculation that they could have another bilateral exchange before he leaves for India.
“Well I would be happy if I leave with the conviction that Pakistan has acknowledged the gravity of what have been brought to the table and given us enough assurance that it will take action,” Chidambaram told CNN-IBN.
Malik said the talks started “positively” and expressed hope that it would continue. After the morning together at the SAARC interior minister’s meeting on Saturday, they will also meet at the reception hosted by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari.
Pakistan media reacts
The mood in the Pakistan media has been quite mixed. On Saturday, most of the leading newspapers wrote extensively on Indian Home Minister’s visit to their country.
On Chidambaram-Malik talks, The DAWN newspaper writes very clearly saying – ‘Pakistan-India talks make a wary start’. It is a start that will open up possibilities of more meeting among home ministers of the two countries.
The Nation on the other hand quotes Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik and writes ‘Lets exchange hearts not dossiers’. The newspaper carries Pakistan’s official position on the issue that it is time to move ahead and build confidence.
Another leading newspaper, the Daily times, quotes P Chidambaram saying – ‘India asks pak to punish 26/11 perpetrators.’
Clearly the tough message that Chidambaram is carry is not lost on anyone in Islamabad.