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Resumption of dialogue with Pak difficult: India

Aziz Haniffa | March 16, 2010 10:42 IST
Last Updated: March 16, 2010 12:45 IST

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao [Images], in strongly defending India's [Images] conditioning the resurrection of the Indo-Pakistan composite dialogue on Islamabad's [Images] terrorist infrastructure in its territory, said she had reached out to her diplomatic vis-�-vis Salman Bashir to at least facilitate a 'small beginning,' but bemoaned that Pakistan came to the talks 'with a different orientation.'

In response to an emotional outburst by a Dr Fadiya Mansour, a Pakistani educationist at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, who complained that India was unfairly conditioning its talks with Pakistan even as Pakistan itself was a victim of wanton terrorism, and thus denying 'a generation of my children who want to get over this period of animosity and tensions and wars between the two countries and who want to move forward so that we can now focus on development and poverty alleviation,' Rao argued that Pakistan-sponsored and inspired terrorism in India was not a recent phenomenon.

"Let me put this in context," she said. "When I speak of terrorism directed against India and its people, this is not a recent phenomenon. This is not something that happened only in Mumbai [Images] on November 26, 2008, but it has happened on many, many occasions previously also."

Thus, Rao said, "The people of India-- and we live in a democracy in India and public opinion matters, what the views held by political parties matter -- this is in the consciousness of the Indian people being expressed very, very vividly and very strongly now that we have just suffered too much from this for too long."

She pointed out that India has condemned terrorism in Pakistan. "We have never in any way condoned that -- let me put it that way. We have condemned it wholeheartedly. But please realize that there are groups in Pakistan that continue to follow an agenda of violence, of hatred."

Rao said that in her earlier remarks she had not brought up 'the name of Hafiz Saeed [Images] and what the Jamat-ud-Dawa and others, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images]. I mean the LeT, spells terrorism worldwide today, but certainly it was a group created with a very, very India-oriented agenda."

"And, these activities in our view -- and it's our considered view and it's not a view based on just emotion or just subjective assessment -- it is based on objective criteria. We fee that these groups continue to roam, to speak, to be allowed unhindered access to media, to be a channel to communicate that agenda and that affects us and our people are concerned about it."

Thus, Rao said India's earnest request to Pakistan 'and even in my recent talks with my counterpart Mr Bashir, (was to) please pay attention to what we are saying. Please do something about it.'

She said that last September too, when she met her counterpart in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, this concern had been brought up and also the bringing to justice of the perpetrators of the horrific Mumbai attacks.

"We were told last September when we met in New York that it will take three to five months for this process to be over. But that still continues for whatever reasons and I am not going into that."

"So, our people, the Indian people, see all of this and it is very, very difficult to be convinced in such a situation that we should set aside these concerns and then just move on. And, that why when you talk of resuming the composite dialogue, it becomes very, very difficult to do that in the current situation."

Rao said that 'we made this earnest effort in good faith when I telephoned my Pakistani counterpart and invited him to Delhi [Images] for talks -- to make a modest beginning because we felt that shutting the door on dialogue also was not the way for us. We had to make a small beginning, a very, very small beginning. But it was a beginning.'

But, she said, "Pakistan came to the talks with a slightly -- well, I won't say slightly -- different orientation, and we've left it at that."

Rao declared that 'we had the opportunity,' but lamented at this lost opportunity, although she acknowledged that 'it was a useful meeting and from the point of view of the government of India we have suggested that we continue to keep in touch.'

"Now let's see what the response from Pakistan will be," she challenged.

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