The Indo-Pak foreign secretary level talks are the latest casualty of Tuesday’s serial blasts. India has called off the talks that were to be held here next week, top government sources said.
Reflecting New Delhi’s mood, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said that “unsettling events” had taken place. “Cooperation is a two-way street. No cooperation can be one-sided… India will do what it has to do,” he said.
Saran, however, emphasised that the peace process was not off.
Though there was no schedule of the talks, India and Pakistan had agreed in January that the dialogue could be held on July 21, which was to be confirmed by both sides. While Pakistan had 10 days ago expressed readiness, New Delhi had not responded.
The cancellation followed some very tough talk from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his Mumbai visit. He said that it was impossible for terrorists to execute Tuesday’s train blasts without support, instigation and inspiration from across the border. Speaking at the airport after visiting blast victims, Singh said Pakistan had assured in 2004 that terrorists would not be allowed to operate from its soil. “That assurance has to be fulfilled,” he said.
When asked whether confidence-building measures would be affected, Singh said the destiny of South Asian countries was interlinked and that it had been explained to Pakistan, at the highest level, that it would be exceedingly difficult to carry on with the peace process if terrorism continued.
When asked if India planned to declare Pakistan a terrorist state, the PM said India has used all possible avenues in world fora to tell how India has suffered from brutal terrorism in the last 15 to 16 years. “There’s more awareness than before that terrorism is a global phenomenon,” he added.
Singh asserted that “adequate information was given to the state about possible terrorist acts.” But he said the terrorists succeeded because of the element of surprise. “At a macro level, we had a lot of information, but at micro level no specific information was available.”
Pakistan reacted by rejecting Singh’s “unsubstantiated allegations.” “We have already rejected the charges,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said.