India is attempting to muster international opinion in its favour on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly with regard to the perceived lack of meaningful action taken by Pakistan against the accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
In an interview, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said: “Factually, we are going to convey this to all our friendly governments, we are going to provide them with facts, like what happened on 26/11 and what has happened subsequent to 26/11. I think the facts themselves will speak more eloquently than anything I can say.”
Also, in an attempt to focus attention on the impasse over 26/11 the minister is giving interviews to major American and international news organisations during his official visit to New York from September 21 to 27.
India is among the most sought-after countries for meetings this week, with Krishna receiving invitations for 57 bilateral and multilateral meetings. Of these, more than 30 have been accepted, including a reception to be hosted by US President Barack Obama.
Krishna did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad in November. “In these multilateral meets, they will all be under one roof. There is every possibility that two statesmen could be meeting with each other,” he said.
However, Krishna stressed that a formal bilateral meeting was not on the calendar. The four-day CHOGM will conclude on the first anniversary of the Mumbai attacks.
The most significant bilateral meet in New York during the UNGA session will certainly be between Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, likely to be on September 27, following a meeting a day earlier between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart.
These meetings will focus on 26/11, where, Krishna said, a simple message will be delivered: “We have been the victim of terrorist attacks from Pakistan, so naturally from the Indian standpoint, terror and terror-related issues are going to be India’s main concerns that are going to be discussed with the Pakistan Foreign Minister.”
The agenda will also include discussions on the “inadequate” action taken against Hafiz Saeed, considered to be the “mastermind” of those attacks, as India believes that the “chief perpetrators” of 26/11 have gone “scot free”. As nearly 10 months have passed since the attacks, the minister said India wanted Pakistan to act “more swiftly” and that the latest dossier provided, according to law experts, had “enough evidence” for action to be taken.
“We would like Pakistan to act against those whom we’ve made out a very, very strong case, which includes Hafiz Saeed for his involvement in the Mumbai attacks,” said Krishna.
For now, as far as India’s stand on talks with Pakistan go, there can be no decoupling of terrorism from other issues when the two countries hold dialogues.