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Gilani's assurance to PM prompted joint-statement: Krishna

Source: PTI
July 24, 2009 22:29 IST
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Rejecting criticism that India 'capitulated' to Pakistan, the government has said an assurance by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to go after the masterminds of Mumbai terror attacks seriously prompted the issuance of the Indo-Pak joint statement.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said India wanted to give the Pakistani government a 'chance to prove or disprove' that they are in control of the machinery.

"Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had assured our prime minister that they were very serious in going after those responsible for Mumbai 26/11. This assurance prompted the issuance of the joint statement," Krishna told India Today in an interview.

Justifying the joint statement issued after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting Gilani at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, Krishna said India agreed to delink the composite dialogue from action against terror as the country can never afford to take a "position where we refuse to talk to a nation."

"We have not capitulated. India is too big and mature a country for these situations. So, we will have to continue to talk to Pakistan. There is no alternative. We have to keep them engaged so that we know what they are planning and what they are up to," he said.

"Here is an opportunity for Pakistan to prove they are in total control, that they are going after the terrorists," Krishna said.

Asked what prompted the change of heart as the Prime Minister had told Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari recently that his mandate for talks was limited to how Pakistan handled terror, Krishna said Islamabad took "certain steps" in the intervening period.

"Certain steps have been initiated by Pakistan in terms of follow-up action they propose to take. They have arrested five people responsible for the Mumbai attacks and have filed chargesheets against them and their trial is to start soon in Pakistan," he said.

"We also received a dossier from them which we are studying. Now there is Mohammed Ajmal Kasab's confession. So we are going stage by stage. Let's wait and watch on how things unfold," Krishna added.

On the inclusion of Balochistan in the joint statement, he said India's "conscience is clear and as a nation we don't do anything nefarious and that's why if you want to mention Balochistan, do it by all means."

"It is an open book as far as India is concerned as we have nothing to hide," he said.

Krishna said Pakistan has been asked to show the "same kind of commitment" to fighting militants targeting India as they have done in fighting terror in the Swat region.

Noting that India continues to impress upon Pakistan the need to fight terror, Krishna said the government is still sticking to its stand that the composite dialogue can wait till the terror-related issues are settled.

"As reiterated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament, we stick to our stand that the composite dialogue can wait till the terror-related issues are settled," he said.

India, he said, had announced suspension of the composite dialogue after Mumbai terror attacks till Pakistan brings to justice perpetrators of the attacks and that remains the position even today.

On US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to India, Krishna said, "Her pronouncements have all been very positive towards India."

"In our bilateral talks, she sounded positive, sounded decisive at times. So we feel that we can continue to depend on the Obama administration," he said.

"And the fact that Manmohan Singh has been bestowed the honour of being the first visiting statesman to the White House in November is further indication that contrary to the whispers we hear, we are on the right note with the US," Krishna said.

Asked whether the US approach towards India may change following the recent G8 proposal to restrict sales of nuclear reprocessing technology to non-signatories of Non-Proliferation Treaty, Krishna said Clinton made it clear that the Obama administration is "very serious" about the civilian nuclear pact and will continue to make headway according to the agreement.

He disagreed that there has been drift in India's foreign policy towards Pakistan, the US or other countries.

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