Rao defends Pillai, says ISI link to terror nothing new

New Delhi, July 17 (Calcutta Tube) India Saturday again came out in support of Home Secretary G.K. Pillai’s comments on the ISI, saying he was ‘perfectly within his rights’ to draw attention to it and asked Pakistan to introspect on involvement of state and non-state actors in terror unleashed against India.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, in an interview to NDTV news channel, also made it clear that the talks with Pakistan will continue to remove the trust deficit – the underlying cause of tensions in bilateral ties.

Putting India’s core concern on terror at the centre of engagement, Rao said: ‘We have a dialogue that we are seeking to restore with Pakistan but we also have very real core concerns about terrorism and about the trauma of Mumbai, the aftermath of Mumbai….’

‘…and the action that Pakistan needs to take on the basis of very credible evidence on the involvement of Pakistani agencies, Pakistani nationals in the Mumbai attacks,’ she told NDTV.

Rao’s comments came even as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Saturday struck a conciliatory tone, saying Pakistan wanted normalisation of bilateral relations and stressed their desire for the dialogue process to continue.

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai had been criticised by Qureshi at a joint press conference in Islamabad Thursday for his comments on the role of the ISI in 26/11 on the eve of the foreign-minister level talks.

‘So the home secretary was perfectly within his rights to draw attention to this,’ she said.

‘…about the involvement of the state and the non-state agencies in the whole business of terror unleashed in India by Pakistan, this disclosure about the involvement of ISI is not new to India,’ she added.

‘India has all along maintained that when it comes to the terror machine that unfortunately continues to exist in Pakistan,’ Rao said a day after Qureshi accused India of selectively focusing on terror to the exclusion of other issues at Thursday’s talks.

‘There are serious introspections that are required by Pakistan into why terror has been used as an instrument in policy against India… and that involves both state and non-state actors,’ Rao stressed.

‘I am constrained to say that there are state and non-state actors and Pakistan needs to undergo that whole process of… I believe of catharsis, when it comes to understanding why terror is now threatening the very fabric of Pakistan itself,’ she added.

She also disclosed that contrary approaches and clashing expectations on both sides led to acrimony at the end of the talks.

‘It is just that we did not announce anything and I want to be frank that there was a hiatus in expectations from both sides and we had a very clear set of doables that we thought we would discuss with Pakistan,’ said Rao.

‘The Pakistanis came to this with a slightly different expectation. I think the aim on their side was to see the entire spectrum of dialogue restored,’ said Rao.

Rao was referring to Pakistani demand that India lay out a timetable for resolving other ‘doables’ in the composite dialogue like disputes over the Siachen glacier and Sir Creek marshlands.

Rao, however, made it clear that the process of engagement with Pakistan will continue and countered the perception that the talks were futile.

‘We have several pointers before us as far as the future is concerned. In most of the sectors that we talked about yesterday… the sectors for resumption of dialogue… we were in agreement,’ she said while referring to Qureshi’s visit to India later this year.

‘I would say that I would have hoped that we would’ve had a more positive outcome to our discussions yesterday,’ Rao replied when asked whether she was disappointed at the way the talks between the ended.

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