Headley revelations to dominate talks with Pak

S M Krishna arrives in Islamabad to meet Qureshi

Headley revelations to dominate talks with Pak

Foreign Minister S M Krishna and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao arrive at the Chacklala airbase in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. Krishna’s visit is part of an attempt on how to resume a peace process between India and Pakistan. AFP

Though New Delhi and Islamabad are planning to announce some confidence-building measures to end the post-26/11 diplomatic chill, Krishna on Wednesday said he would expect Qureshi to give him some feedbacks on the issues raised by Home Minister P Chidambaram during his visit to Pakistan last month, particularly in the context of the interrogation of Headley on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

“India expects some response (to revelations by Headley). I am here to find out just what that response is,” Krishna told journalists after reaching Islamabad. “We expect a satisfactory response.”

Pakistani-American Headley, an operative of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), was arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago in October 2009.

Headley later pleaded guilty on 12 charges, including that of being involved with the terrorist attack in Mumbai. His plea-bargain revealed how he had been trained by the LeT in Pakistan and how the 26/11 had been plotted in that country.

He was subsequently quizzed by a team of India’s NIA. Home Secretary G K Pillai on Tuesday said whatever Headley had revealed to NIA interrogators had indicated that the ISI had not just a peripheral but also a direct role in controlling and coordinating the 26/11 attacks. “I think the time has come when a government is presented with overwhelming evidence of such irrefutable nature, that government must act,” said Krishna.

New evidence

Though Islamabad had been rubbishing New Delhi’s allegations about the complicity of “state actors” of Pakistan in the carnage in Mumbai, Chidambaram had taken up with his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik during a meeting last month the new evidence coming out of the revelations by Headley.

Krishna’s visit to Islamabad for a meeting with Qureshi comes almost two and a half months after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani met in Bhutanese capital Thimphu and decided that foreign secretaries and foreign ministers of the two countries would meet and explore ways “to restore trust and build mutual confidence.”

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao met her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Islamabad on June 24 last to prepare the ground for Krishna-Qureshi meet. A Pakistani anti-terrorism court is trying seven LeT operatives in connection with the 26/11 attacks. But Islamabad has been stating that the evidences provided by New Delhi were not enough to convict them.

Pakistani Interior Minister Malik on Tuesday had a meeting with Indian High Commissioner Sharat Shabarwal and renewed Islamabad’s demand that New Delhi should send the magistrates and police officers who had recorded the statement of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone 26/11 gunmen to be caught alive.

Islamabad has already hinted that Qureshi is likely to raise the issue of Kashmir during his talks with Krishna and particularly focus on recent unrest in the Valley. Krishna said “whatever is happening in Kashmir is an internal matter of India,” for the Indian democratic system had enough internal mechanism to deal with such situations.

Krishna also said his visit to Islamabad marked the “beginning of a new journey.” Apart from meeting Qureshi, Krishna will also call on Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

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