Pakistan has taken some steps towards addressing India's demand for action against the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said, backing government's offer of talks to the neighbouring country.
“We have been watching what action Pakistan has been taking. Even though we are not fully satisfied…., we feel they have taken some action as per our wish,” Antony said on Thursday.
“It was a positive development. So we decided to initiate talks.”
There has been no formal communication from Islamabad on the dates for the talks. They are, however, expected to settle for February 25. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters it was “not a bad date”.
Semantics of the talks, however, remain an issue. Pakistan is for a composite dialogue, India favours foreign secretary-level dialogue.
Across the border, Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was aggressive. “They do not want to talk about Kashmir,” he told reporters, saying the composite dialogue, which covers eight subjects including Kashmir, was the only way forward.
“The threat perception regarding India necessitated the need for a dialogue… There is an intention that we say that there will be no war. But intentions can change anytime. There is a threat perception, that’s why we want dialogue.”
Back home, the opposition is expected to give the Centre a hard time during Parliament’s budget session beginning February 22 over its talks offer.
Officials said the government was likely to explain the “tangible” steps, though “not all”, taken by Islamabad.
For one, its investigators have corroborated the statement of Ajmal Kasab, lone terrorist taken alive during the 26/11 attacks, and taken the investigation in the “desired direction”.
Investigators also told a court that there was “sufficient evidence” against the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba for plotting 26/11.
“Pakistan also followed up on some leads on their soil, based on our dossiers. We are saying that they need to do more, but they did take some steps,” a government official said.
Terrorism remains India’s main concern. “Then, we have made it clear that we are willing to address all issues of concerns, and Pakistan responded. The nomenclature of the dialogue cannot be an issue,” the official said.
“The dialogue process must be opened and must be fully operational. There is no substitute for dialogue,” said M.K. Bhadrakumar, a former diplomat.