India asks for Saeed's arrest, Pak raises Balochistan
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao today met Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir at Hyderabad House in New Delhi for talks since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. While India officially asked Pakistan to arrest 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan raised Balochistan issue. Delegation-level talks have begun. Listen to podcastdelhi Updated: Feb 25, 2010 16:54 IST
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao today met Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in New Delhi for talks since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. While India officially asked Pakistan to arrest 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan raised Balochistan issue.
India has demanded handing over by Pakistan of 26/11 attack mastermind and founder of Lashker-e-Taiba Hafiz Saeed and seven others besides some other militants of Indian Mujahideen and Khalistan for their role in other subversive activities.
Senior Government sources said two dossiers were handed over at the talks between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir.
In the first dossier, India, which has accused Pakistan of not being serious in prosecuting those involved in the 26/11 conspiracy, demanded that besides Saeed, Lashker operatives Muzzamil, Abu Hamza, Abu Khafa and Usman should be handed over to it.
All of them have been named in the chargesheet filed by Mumbai police in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attack, which left 166 people dead.
India also asked Pakistan to hand over Lashker commander Sajjid Mir, retired Army Major Iqbal and one more person for questioning as they were still suspects in the 26/11 attack. The Mumbai terror attack dossier also included a separate
demand for handing over of Illyas Kashmiri, a militant whose links with global terror group Al-Qaeda had even been
established by the FBI.
The second dossier demanded handing over of seven Khalistani militants and 17 Indian Mujahideen terrorists which
includes five Pakistani nationals.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao greeted her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir at Hyderabad House as the two top officials along with their delegations sat down for talks, aimed at breaking the deadlock in bilateral ties.
"We look forward to our talks," Rao told reporters outside Hyderabad House.
"Hyderabad House is a familiar venue. We look forward to a very, good constructive arrangement," a smiling Bashir added before going inside for the talks.
Besides Rao, the Indian team included India's High Commissioner to Islamabad Sharat Sabharwal, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan Y.K. Sinha, ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vishnu Prakash and other officials of the MEA.
The Pakistani delegation comprised Afrasiab, director-general of the South Asia division and a former deputy high commissioner to India, Pakistan's High Commissioner Shahid Malik, Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit and other senior officials.
The two sides have made it clear that although they have their differing core concerns, they are going into these crucial talks with "an open mind".
For India, the core concern is terrorism and the alleged use of Pakistani territory by anti-India terror outfits, but it is willing to discuss other issues. Pakistan has made it clear that it will focus on the Kashmir dispute and other issues like sharing of river waters.
The Pakistani delegation will also call on National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, a former foreign secretary and a former Indian envoy to Islamabad, Thursday evening. On Friday morning, the Pakistanis will call on External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna before heading back to Islamabad.
Indian and Pakistani leaders met at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt last year. But this is the first structured dialogue since the Mumbai attack in November 2008 that put the brakes on the composite dialogue between the two countries. (With PTI inputs)