No decision has been taken to suspend the India-Pakistan dialogue process as New Delhi still hoped for a positive response from Islamabad on its demand for the hand over of 20-odd fugitives from justice living in Pakistan.
South Block sources said on Tuesday that India had not embarked on any military build-up, but wanted Islamabad to deliver on promises that its territory would not be used for terrorist acts.
<b1>There’s little doubt, though, that it’s far from business as usual in India-Pakistan relations and that New Delhi wants Islamabad to create an atmosphere conducive to carrying on with the peace process.
Refusing to spell out what India would do if Pakistan did not respond to India’s demands that wanted people like Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar were handed over, they said, “We will cross the bridge when we come to it.”
Commenting on India’s demands, Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman said in Islamabad, “We have to look at it formally once we receive it (list of terrorists) and we will frame a response to that.”
India’s policy of calibrated diplomatic pressure on Pakistan received one response from Islamabad when Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi proposed a joint mechanism to probe the Mumbai attacks.
A day before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lands in Delhi, Qureshi said in Islamabad that a joint commission, to be co-chaired by national security advisers, could be set up to probe the incident.
This body, Qureshi said in Islamabad, could “meet as early as possible for exchange of information”. He suggested that both sides avoid the “blame game” and reiterated Islamabad’s assurance of “utmost cooperation and assistance” to punish those responsible. Pakistan rejected suggestions that the government was in some way involved with the attacks. “Terrorism is the common enemy and we need a joint strategy,” Qureshi stated.
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that while India was not considering any military response to the Mumbai provocation, it reserved the right to take measures to protect its territorial integrity. “I am not making any comment on military options. What I am saying is every sovereign country has its right to protect its territorial integrity and take appropriate action as and when it feels necessary,” he told a television channel. He confirmed a formal demand to hand over 20-odd fugitives from Indian law had been conveyed to Pakistan’s High Commissioner Shahid Malik on Monday evening.
“We have in our demarche (diplomatic protest) asked for the arrest and handover of those persons who are settled in Pakistan and who are fugitives of Indian law,” Mukherjee stated. Separately, a senior MEA official assured select diplomats, who lost nationals in Mumbai, that India had no intention of engaging in a military build-up on its border with Pakistan.