Archive for February 13th, 2011

India to Invite Pakistan Home Secretary for March Talks, 26/11 on Agenda

As Reported by The Times of India

With India and Pakistan deciding to resume comprehensive dialogue over various issues, New Delhi will soon extend an invitation to Islamabad for home secretary-level talks on counterterrorism, including progress in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack trial, here in March.

Home secretary Gopal K Pillai said, “I will call my Pakistani counterpart this week inviting him to New Delhi for talks. I will propose two sets of dates to him for a meeting in the second-half of next month.”

This will be the first structured home secretary-level meeting between India and Pakistan on counterterrorism after November 2008. The last such meeting between home secretaries had, incidentally, concluded in Islamabad on November 26, 2008 — the day Lashkar gunmen attacked Mumbai. India had suspended composite dialogue with Pakistan in the wake of the 26/11 attacks.

Home secretaries of both countries had also met on the sidelines of Saarc interior ministers’ conference in Islamabad in June last year.

On the issues to be taken up during the meeting with Pakistani interior secretary Chaudhry Qamar Zaman, Pillai told a news agency, “We will ask for voice transcripts (of perpetrators of 26/11) even though the trial court has said no. We will ask them why they have not gone and appealed. I am sure the high court or the Supreme Court may have said that the voice transcripts can be given.”

Referring to lack of action on the part of Pakistan, the home secretary said, “So far most of the people they have caught are all chaps who have sold outboard engines or… driven a taxi and not any of the main people whose voice has been identified by Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley.”

He added, “I think by now, if they wanted, they could have arrested the main persons behind it (26/11 attacks). No use catching people on the streets… and not the real controllers and those who are behind it (attacks).”

Asked what prevented Pakistan from taking strong action against those responsible for the attack, Pillai said Headley’s own evidence clearly showed that there was support of certain elements in the Pakistan state. So, to that extent, anything which leads back to them, there is “total deniability”, Pillai said.

He rejected the view that investigations into the Samjhauta Express blast, indicating involvement of right-wing extremism, will put pressure on India while talking to Pakistan on terrorism. “It will not put pressure on us. We are open about it. The investigations are open. Our courts are free. We are investigating the same. We had told them in June that the investigations are on and as something crystalizes, we shall share it with them. And now, we have said that as soon as the chargesheet is filed, we will share full details with them because a very large number of Pakistani citizens were killed,” he said.

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