by Jwaed Naqvi
May 31st, 2009
NEW DELHI: India saw Pakistan as a potential strategic partner and wanted Islamabad to mend fences with New Delhi, Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna has said, offering again to join the hunt with Pakistan for terrorists.
‘Whether you refer to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal or our immediate big neighbour China. We have our problems but we also have our lasting friendship with all of them,’ Mr Krishna told CNN-IBN news channel.
‘We want a strategic partnership with all these countries so that we can live in peace. Development could be our mantra or the engine, which will drive us.’ Mr Krishna was asked to comment on India’s contrary approaches towards Pakistan and Sri Lanka in fighting terrorism — seeking a ceasefire against Tamil rebels while pressing Pakistan to do more against the Taliban and other extremist groups.
The two situations had a different meaning for India, Mr Krishna said.
‘What was happening in Sri Lanka was internal strife, but what is happening in Pakistan is the territory of Pakistan being used repeatedly to assault India.’
The Mumbai outrage was still fresh in the minds of Indians. ‘So we feel that Pakistan should have the commitment and determination to fight terror and India is going to partner with them in fighting terror in both Pakistan and India.’
Was it possible to expect the composite dialogue to resume anytime soon, given the backdrop of Mumbai?‘We as a country would like to be in peace with Pakistan. We would want to have friendly relations with them.
Every time we have reached certain critical stage something like this happens. 26/11 happened at a time when the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan was moving in a particular direction and we were pleased with the development. And then suddenly this heinous crime on India was perpetrated,’ Mr Krishna said.
He regretted the fact that Pakistan had initially failed to accept that the perpetrators were its citizens or that the plan to attack Mumbai was hatched and executed from there.
‘And ultimately Pakistan conceded the fact that they were all Pakistanis and the one who is in our custody is a Pakistani. Such being the case it will become extremely difficult for India to continue the composite dialogue unless Pakistan brings all those perpetrators of that crime to book to justice. Then perhaps there is a possibility that we can move along the composite dialogue.’
The Mumbai affair had a very negative impact on bilateral relationship and the dialogue had been virtually halted, Mr Krishna admitted.
‘Pakistan will have to do some introspection and take some steps in order to set right the record.’
The Indian minister said his country had upgraded its vigil for trouble from across the border since the recent attack in Lahore.
‘Our level of vigil has been upgraded and we are conscious that certain developments could take place. We will monitor the situation very closely and take all precautions to checkmate any such situation.’