Union External Affairs Minister SM Krishna spoke to Jayanth Jacob on relations with Pakistan and China.
What concrete step does India wants Pakistan to take so that a meaningful dialogue, stalled after 26/11, can begin?
All India wants and expects from Pakistan is this: Based on the six dossiers we handed over to them on the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan must go for a full-steam, serious and focused investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. That will suffice. The rest can be left for the judicial process.
There are some civil society initiatives between the two sides?
I don’t think the people of Pakistan want relations with India to reach a dead end because our linkages are age- old. We have friends, relatives, acquaintances, trade partners from Pakistan on the Indian side. The cumulative pressure of civil society should be on the Pakistan government to create a situation of faith and sensitivity to mutual concerns.
Aren’t we holding other vital issues, such as helping the release of prisoners in each other’s country, hostage to the issue of terrorism?
Terrorism is a standalone issue and in the absence of firm steps to counter it, no instrument to normalise relations — whether a dialogue process or any other — can succeed.
Are you still confused about whom to talk to in Pakistan? And how long can there be a no-talks option?
The Prime Minister had said in Parliament that it is as much in Pakistan’s interest as it is in ours to strive to make peace. However, we cannot shut our eyes to the threat that exists or to the full nature of that threat. I would like to point out that the door for dialogue has never been closed. It has been and remains our consistent position that the starting point of any dialogue with Pakistan is the fulfilment of its commitment not to allow the territory under its control to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India.
2010 seems to be very positive on India-China relations. What are the messages you will be carrying when you travel there in April?
The year 2010 promises to be a very engaging year in our relationship with China, with a series of high-level visits and important events slated. I will highlight to the Chinese leadership the paramount need for our two nations to join hands to uphold our common interests and those of the developing world... to remain sensitive to each other’s interests and concerns.
What are the initiatives being planned to celebrate the 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries this year?
There will be occasions to relive the history of this relationship, which spans not just the last six decades, but two millennia…. Apart from the festivals (Festivals of India in China and Festival of India in China), the governments are planning interactive events.
What is your response to the British proposal for a regional forum for bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan?
Our vision with regard to regional co-operation is for Afghanistan to emerge as a trade, transportation and energy hub connecting central and south Asia by enabling unfettered transport and transit linkages. Growing economic interdependence could catalyse peace and prosperity in the region.
Pakistan has been suspicious of Indian involvement in Afghanistan.
India has attempted to help Afghanistan in its reconstruction efforts... Our assistance, now over $1.3 billion, has focused on infrastructure development and human resource development. Pakistan has nothing to fear from India’s engagement in Afghanistan, which is an open book.