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'Pak foreign secretary got his brief from men in khaki'

Last updated on: February 25, 2010 23:03 IST

In a retort to Pakistan's contention that it was "not desperate" for dialogue, India on Thursday night said it too was not desperate for talks and indicated unhappiness over the attempts at "point-scoring" by Pakistan.

Shortly after Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir addressed a press conference in New Delhi that was seen as acrimonious, sources in the government said that by offering to hold talks, India had made a sincere effort to rebuild trust and would watch how Pakistan acts on its core concern of terrorism.

The sources underlined that security of its people was of utmost importance to the government and it was in this context that it pressed for concrete action to end anti-India terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

"These are genuine concerns... We are not lecturing," the sources said, while rebutting Bashir's point that Pakistan did not like to be sermoned.

With regard to the Pakistan Foreign Secretary's view that his country was "not desperate" for dialogue, the sources said even India was not desperate.

They went on to add that dialogue should not be measured in terms of desperation etc.

Apparently peeved at Bashir's "point-scoring" attempts, the sources observed that while Rao had got her brief for the talks from a democratic government, her Pakistani counterpart had got the brief from "GHQ (General Headquarters of Army) and men in khaki".

The sources rejected Bashir's contention that issues like Kashmir, Balochistan and water were discussed "extensively" in today's talks, underlining that 85 per cent of the discussions were on terrorism emanating from Pakistan and 10 other issues figured in the remaining 15 per cent of the three-hour-long talks.

"The tone and tenor of the talks was good... But we are surprised at point scoring by Pakistan," the Indian government sources said.

They said Rao had invited her Pakistani counterpart for the talks with an "open mind" and India's point of view had been conveyed in a "mature" manner.

India now hopes Pakistan would also respond in a mature manner and act on India's concerns with regard to terrorism, which would determine whether the trust could be built or not.

"Proof of pudding is in eating," the sources said, adding India would watch whether Pakistan acts as it would be crucial for incremental progress in relations. India, however, has not set any "benchmarks" for Pakistan.

Noting that India has always believed that the door for talks should not be shut, the sources said it feels that the Foreign Secretary-level talks were "one small step" aimed at restoring trust that has been eroded by Mumbai attacks.

On failure of Pakistan to act against Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, India wonders whether it was because he "knows too much" or was a part of Pakistani establishment.

India points out that it has given enough evidence and "not mere literature" as claimed by Pakistan and wants Pakistan to act against him.

The Indian sources also rejected Pakistan's contention that it does not have laws to prosecute Hafiz Saeed merely on the basis of his provocative speeches.

They pointed out that Pakistan had amended its anti-terror law last year, giving it more powers to act in such cases.

On Bashir's emphasis on more intelligence sharing to prevent terror attacks, the Indian sources questioned Pakistan's "will" to extend "meaningful cooperation".

It was pointed out that seven dossiers of evidence had been given earlier with regard to Mumbai attacks but Pakistan was yet to unveil the full conspiracy of Mumbai attacks.

The sources also rubbished Bashir's point that India did not provide any information "officially" with regard to David Coleman Headley and Tahawur Rana, LeT operatives with Pakistani roots, who had played a key role in Mumbai attacks.

Bashir earlier said he had come to know through the press reports that Headley, "some American national", had been arrested in the US.

Questioning feigning of ignorance by Pakistan on Headley and Rana, the Indian sources said information relating to them was in public domain and nothing could be given to Pakistan officially as there had been no talks since they were arrested in October last year.

India gave details about them to Pakistan today with the hope that they would act by tracing his connections there. On Pakistan's contention that it was facing "hundreds of Mumbai", the Indian sources noted "Pakistan is victim of its own creation while we are victims of their (Pakistani) creation".

At the same time, India recognises that Pakistan has prosecuted some of those involved in Mumbai attacks, marking the first time when Pakistan had acted against anyone blamed for terror here. But this is not enough, the sources said.

The sources also acknowledged Bashir's contention that he had once rung up Indian High Commissioner, some time before Mumbai attacks, to share information about an impending terror attack.

On raking of water issue, India feels that Pakistan is indulging in propaganda while seeking to convert technical matters into political matter.

Pakistan's objections to defence spending by India was also rubbished, with the sources saying that it was defensive in nature and not aimed at threatening anyone.

The defence spending is undertaken keeping in view the overall security scenario, overt and covert, but "unfortunately Pakistan drags it into bilateral context", the sources said.

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