Speedy conclusion of 26/11 trial will be biggest CBM: PM tells Zardari
Tehran: Pushing Pakistan to act against India-directed terrorism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday told President Asif Ali Zardari that expeditious conclusion of the Mumbai terror attack trial in that country will be a "major" Confidence Building Measure in bilateral relations.
During a meeting between the two leaders which lasted more than half-an-hour, Singh underlined India's terrorism-related concerns.
The Prime Minister "underlined our terrorism-related concerns. He pressed for an expeditious conclusion in 26/11 trial and said action take in this sphere (terrorism) would be a major CBM," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said briefing reporters on the Singh-Zardari meeting on the sidelines of the 16th NAM summit here.
Singh was accompanied by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and other senior officials while Zardari had his son Bilawal Bhutto, Foreign Affairs Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Interior Minister Rehman Malik in his team.
Singh told Zardari that action in Mumbai attack trial in Pakistan will be a major CBM, help in bridging the trust deficit and build public support for the kind of relationship India would like to see between the two nations.
Zardari reiterated his invitation to Prime Minister to
visit Pakistan and Singh responded thanking him for the gracious invitation.
"The Prime Minister said he attached great importance to normalising relations with Pakistan and that he would like to visit that country at a suitable time that is to say, he would like a well prepared visit," Mathai said.
Reiterating India's desire for peaceful cooperative relations with Pakistan, Prime Minister Singh said there is a need to proceed in a "step-by-step, graduated" approach given the complexity of bilateral relationship it has with that country.
Mathai said Zardari reiterated his country's commitment to bring to justice those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack.
The President agreed that terrorism posed a continuing threat to peace and security and referred in this regard to some of the difficulties faced in his own country, he said.
The meeting came a day after the Indian Supreme Court upheld LeT terrorist Ajmal Kasab's death sentence in the Mumbai terror attack case, strengthening India's case for action against others involved in the 26/11 strike in which 166 people were killed.
Singh said the action taken in 26/11 will be a "major CBM
that will help in bridging the trust deficit and will help in building public support for the kind of relationship that we would like to see between the two nations", Mathai said.
Pakistan on its part said the Mumbai terror attack case trial was underway and that it would need to send another judicial commission to India to cross-examine three witnesses in the case.
Mathai said that Indian government is taking a "positive view" on the Pakistani request and said a judicial clarification was needed on whether there can be a repeat visit of Pakistan Judicial Commission to India and cross- examine the witnesses. The witnesses included a doctor and a Metropolitan Magistrate who recorded the statement of Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman.
Singh said a stable and prosperous Pakistan acting as "bulwark" against terrorism is in its own interest and that of the region.
Singh and Zardari while reviewing the state of bilateral relations expressed satisfaction at the Foreign Secretary- level talks so far and hoped that Krishna's forthcoming visit to Pakistan next week would provide an opportunity to take stock of progress in the resumed dialogue and chart the course for the next round.
Noting that some achievements had been made, the two leaders hoped India and Pakistan would be able to prepare a kind of roadmap for the way forward at the upacoming meeting.
The two leaders also noted the progress made in several areas, including bilateral trade and economic ties.
Zardari advocated regional economic cooperation, maintaining that Pakistan could be a catalyst in promoting this effort.
Prime Minister reiterated India's desire to have peaceful
relationship with Pakistan and given the "complexities" in the Indo-Pak relations, both leaders agreed to have "step-by-step graduated" approach which will have the best "chance in succeeding", Mathai said.
Singh told Zardari that India wishes Pakistan well and New Delhi was willing to meet Islamabad half-way in making efforts to normalise our bilateral relation for peace and stability of the region.
The leaders felt that there was a vast potential in the trade and commerce area between the two countries, the Foreign Secretary said, adding their Commerce Secretaries are scheduled to meet very soon and take forward the process of three agreements, including customs corporation and dispute resolutions which have been decided earlier.
There was appreciation by Singh and Zardari for the work done by the Commerce Ministers and the Secretaries of the two countries.
There was also a discussion on a need for closer consultations and Malik, who was part of Zardari's delegation, mentioned the need for a "closer, regular and institutionalised dialogue" in the matters relating to his ministry, Mathai said, adding Malik also suggested regular exchanges for the border management.
Asked about CBMs in Jammu and Kashmir, Mathai said one round has already taken place and second round will also happen in due course.
Singh had last met Zardari in New Delhi in April this year when the Pakistani President made a private visit to India to pray at the Sufi shrine in Ajmer.
The Prime Minister had hosted a lunch for Zardari and conveyed to him that people of India will judge Pakistan by the actions taken to curb terrorism and against those responsible for Mumbai terror attacks.