NEW DELHI: India is ready to talk on all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including Jammu and Kashmir, but it needs a firm reassurance that perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks will be brought to justice because the trial of the alleged terrorists appears to be going nowhere, according to Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna.
“Prior to the Mumbai attacks, things were really moving in the right direction, but that episode put the clock back, and we being a democratic country could not remain oblivious to the feelings of our people. It was shocking for us to know that Pakistanis were involved in those attacks,” Mr Krishna told a group of Pakistani journalists here on Wednesday.
He said: “Let me make it abundantly clear that India wants to have a peaceful relationship with Pakistan where we can help each other in the health, education and infrastructural development sectors, and for that the two countries have to come out from an adversarial mindset.”
On the issue of trust deficit, he said since a number of problems had been holding Pakistan and India back since 1947, they couldn`t be ironed out at one meeting. Therefore, there had to be a step by step movement ahead for confidence-building measures, “and that is what I have been trying to put across to my counterpart in Pakistan, the Indian foreign minister added.
Mr Krishna`s briefing came on the heels of an unequivocal assessment by the entire Indian establishment — including top officials of its foreign affairs division and government-sponsored think tanks. They were at one in painting a bleak future for the future of Islamabad-Delhi relations until the former showed `tangible progress` on bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai tragedy to justice.
“It has been well over a year since the government of Pakistan started the trial of alleged terrorists involved in Mumbai attacks. However, we don`t see any significant development on this front. Instead we see people like Hafiz Saeed not only roaming freely in the country, but also addressing public rallies and threatening India of more dire consequences in future,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said while taking to a delegation of Pakistani media persons. SCARRED PSYCHE:
Maharajakrishna Rasgotra, a former foreign secretary who heads the Observers Research Foundation think tank, said: “The Mumbai attacks have caused a deep wound on the psyche of Indian people that would need some time to heal. The government of Pakistan has to take some concrete measures showing it is serious in having some result-oriented discussions in future.”
Joint Secretary Y.K. Sinha, who deals with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, said only two witnesses had been brought before the court and three judges hearing the case in Pakistan had been changed over the past 14 months.
Top journalists based in Delhi also expressed the same feeling that Pakistan didn`t look serious in prosecuting the attackers and termed this issue the main hurdle in initiating purposeful dialogue.
Ms Rao said India had security concerns vis-a-vis Pakistan but reaching out to each other for addressing all outstanding issues was the only way to move forward.
In reply to a question, she said one should not expect a dramatic transformation in the bilateral relationship as a result of meetings between the foreign ministers and secretaries of the two countries likely to be held next month in Bhutan, because the issue of terrorism was at the forefront.