India had taken a “conscious decision” to hold talks with Pakistan even though it was “not fully satisfied” with the steps Islamabad had taken to dismantle the terror infrastructure on its soil, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Thursday.
"We were watching the developments in Pakistan and felt we are not fully satisfied with the steps it had taken to control terrorism. At the same time, they had taken some action as per our wishes. Therefore, we took a conscious decision that it is better to start talks," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the Asian Security Conference.
In this context, Antony noted that "all the 42 terrorist organisations across the border are intact and there is no attempt on the part of the government of Pakistan to dismantle them".
At the same time, perhaps reflecting the government on both countering terrorism and engaging Pakistan, Antony also admitted to increased infiltration attempts into Jammu and Kashmir but added: "We can't say who is behind this."
"The law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved and violence levels have come down. This must be disturbing for those bent on creating disturbances in the state. Our understanding is that it is a conscious decision from somewhere (to increase infiltration attempts). We can't say who is behind this," the minister said.
New Delhi has suggested two dates - Feb 18 or Feb 25 - for talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, saying that while the focus would be on countering terrorism, other matters of mutual concern could also be discussed.
Pakistan, on its part, has been harping on the resumption of the composite dialogue process that India suspended in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, which New Delhi blames on elements operating across the border.
India says it is premature to talk about resuming the dialogue at the present moment and has made it clear to Pakistan that the proposed foreign secretary-level talks are part of "a step-by-step incremental approach" and that Islamabad should "do more" to address New Delhi's concerns over cross-border terror.
Antony made a pointed reference to this while addressing the security conference, saying the "support base" of terror organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Al Qaeda in Pakistan, as also in Afghanistan, needed to be dismantled for peace and development in the region.
"Terror infrastructure continues to thrive on Pakistani soil. We continue to be firm with our demand that Pakistan must put an end to terror activities emanating from its soil," he maintained.
Noting that India-Pakistan relations "have a huge bearing on regional peace and stability", Antony said: "Our government's willingness to resume negotiations with Pakistan must be seen in this backdrop. At the same time, we are also closely monitoring the developments in Pakistan."
He also pointed out that India's experience with terrorism showed that the "line of distinction between state-sponsored terrorism and non-state actors is often blurred and rather indistinguishable".
"Transnational terrorism has, of late, emerged as a real threat. Our neighbourhood, particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan, is home to terrorist organisations like LeT and Al Qaeda, which pose a threat to the entire world.“
"Unless the support base of these organisations is tracked down and dismantled, their activities will continue to pose a serious threat," Antony said, adding: "Cooperation must also include nation-states giving up support to terror groups."
"No country should provide support, explicit or otherwise to terror outfits. This is an important prerequisite for peace and development in the region," the minister maintained.