New Delhi: A day after warm-up talks between India and Pakistan foreign secretaries aimed at bridging the trust deficit and working out measures to counter terrorism, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday will meet his counterpart Rehman Malik in Islamabad.
This would be the first ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. The home minister is visiting Pakistan to discuss greater regional interaction on combating terrorism with his counterparts from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries. He will meet Interior Minister Rehman Malik on the sidelines of the SAARC meet.
The talks between the two leaders are expected to be centred on terrorism emanating from Pakistan and the steps India would like Pakistan to take to end it.
Chidambaram will seek to know the status of investigation and trial being conducted in Pakistan in the Mumbai attacks case. Chidambaram is also expected to press Pakistan on prosecuting the Mumbai attacks mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and the other handlers who directed the attackers.
On Thursday, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao held discussions with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Islamabad.
Sending indications that all is well between the two sides, the two diplomats also held a joint press conference later. The two top diplomats, who met for the second time in four months, described their parleys as "cordial" and "constructive" during which they tried to "understand each other`s position" and concern. Bashir said he felt "much more optimistic" about a good outcome at the talks.
At their meeting, the two sides reportedly exchanged proposals on terrorism, Kashmir and humanitarian issues. Rao, the first senior Indian official to visit Islamabad since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, met Bashir for talks at the Foreign Office here.
The talks began with a one-on-one meeting between Rao and Bashir followed by delegation-level parleys.
Speaking to reporters after the parleys, Rao said, “The dialogue was exploratory…we agreed to bridge the trust deficit,” adding that the talks were held with a forward looking orientation aimed at paving for holding comprehensive dialogue to address all issues.
“I believe that the destiny our two people are linked with each other,” she said while stressing upon the need to normalise the relations between the two countries.
On a question from a reporter on whether India put forth its concerns regarding terrorism during the talks, Rao said, "We discussed all issues, obviously our core concerns on terrorism were also articulated."
The two sides also reportedly discussed the possibility of sharing intelligence and India stressed that Pakistan must stop Hafiz Saeed from making public speeches, even if they can`t arrest him. Overall, Indian officials felt Islamabad was more receptive to their concerns on terror, though they also raised their concerns on Balochistan.
The two sides concluded the parleys while agreeing to enhance counter-terror cooperation, to deny terrorist elements any opportunity to derail their improving relationship as the foreign secretaries held talks to firm up "comprehensive, sustained and meaningful dialogue".