Trial of 26/11 plotters crucial test for Islamabad: PM

Proper atmosphere needed for a visit: Manmohan

India has conveyed it to Pakistan that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could visit it “well-prepared” only if Islamabad works with New Delhi to create a “proper atmosphere” by effectively curbing terrorism originating on its land and speeding up the trial of the 26/11 plotters.

A day after his meeting with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in Tehran, Singh said that the trial of the Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives held in connection with the 26/11 Mumbai massacre was a “crucial test” for Islamabad.

“I am very keen to visit Pakistan and I am grateful for the invitation. But I also mentioned to the Pakistan President that we have to create a proper atmosphere,” he told journalists onboard his special aircraft while returning from Tehran on Friday.

He said that External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his (Krishna) Pakistan counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar would explore how New Delhi and Islamabad could lay the ground for “a purposeful visit” by him to the neighbouring country. Krishna and Khar would meet in Islamabad on September 8.

During a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in the Iranian capital on Thursday, Zardari mentioned his invitation to Singh to visit Pakistan which was extended when he met Singh in New Delhi on April 7.

Ever since India resumed dialogue with Pakistan after a two-and-a-half-year long hiatus, Islamabad has been insisting that New Delhi should not link its action on terror with the bilateral issues.

The Prime Minister, on Friday, apparently linked his visit to Pakistan with Islamabad’s action against terroristm.

“There must be a genuine feeling that Pakistan is doing all that it could do to deal with terrorism directed against India from Pakistani soil. And in this context, the trial of those charged with the heinous crime of Mumbai massacre was a crucial test for the Pakistani society to bring to book the perpetrators,” Singh said.

Singh-Zardari meeting in Tehran came just a day after the Supreme Court’s upheld the death sentence given to the 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab and brought to focus the tardy trial of the seven other plotters of the carnage in the Anti-Terrorism Court in Pakistan.

Briefing media persons in Tehran after the meeting between the two Prime Ministers, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai did not directly reply to a query if New Delhi was linking Singh’s visit to the neighbouring country with the action trial in Pakistan.

“We repeat that we would like a well-prepared visit with a substantive outcome,” he said.

With the BJP gunning for him over “coalgate”, Singh was apparently cautious not to give more munitions to the Opposition to attack his beleaguered Government.

Singh had drawn flak from both the Opposition as well as from within his party after his meeting with the then Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on the sideline of the previous NAM summit in Egypt in July 2009 failed fruitless.  The joint statement issued after the meet gave hopes of peace but the 26/11 attack took place a few months after the meet.

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