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'Proper atmosphere' needed for Pakistan visit: PM

Singh stressed that before he decides to visit, Islamabad faces a crucial test to prosecute the 26/11 perpetrators.

IANS

Updated:September 1, 2012, 1:15 AM IST
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'Proper atmosphere' needed for Pakistan visit: PM
Singh stressed that before he decides to visit, Islamabad faces a crucial test to prosecute the 26/11 perpetrators.
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On Board Air India One: A day after he met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in Tehran, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday he said was keen to visit Pakistan but only if the "proper atmosphere" was created by Islamabad by punishing the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage.

"I am very keen to visit Pakistan and am very grateful to President (Asif Ali) Zardari but I also mentioned we have to create a proper atmosphere," Manmohan Singh told reporters on board his special aircraft on his way home from Tehran after attending the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit.

Manmohan Singh stressed that before he decides to visit, Islamabad faces a crucial test to prosecute the 26/11 perpetrators. "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."

"Pakistan says it is doing all to deal with terror directed against India. Charging the 26/11 perpetrators is a crucial test of Pakistan's sincerity of bringing those responsible for this horrible crime to book. Zardari and (Interior Minister) Rehman Malik said they were subject to the vagaries of the court process," Manmohan Singh said.

The prime minister also hoped that the foreign ministers of the two countries, at their meeting next month, "can explore the possibility of my purposeful visit to Pakistan".

"There are issues like Sir Creek which are doable as was said by him (Zardari) when he came last (to Delhi in April). I said let's push this process." His remarks came a day after he met Zardari on the sidelines of the NAM summit in the Iranian capital during which he pushed Pakistan to act against India-directed terrorism and said that expeditious conclusion of the Mumbai terror attack trial in that country will be a "major" confidence building measure in bilateral relations.

Taking forward his April 8 talks with the prime minister in New Delhi, Zardari renewed his invitation to Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan. Manmohan Singh had told him he was keen to visit Pakistan but Islamabad must first take concrete action against the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror saying, saying this would be the biggest sub-continental confidence and trust building measure.

Manmohan Singh added that Interior Minister Rehman Malik said his country was doing all it could in the realm of the court process. "Pakistan says it is doing all to deal with terror directed against India. Charging the 26/11 perpetrators is a crucial test of Pakistan's sincerity of bringing those responsible for this horrible crime to book. Zardari and (Interior Minister) Rehman Malik said they were subject to the vagaries of the court process," Manmohan Singh said.

In an important step to goad Pakistan to expedite the 26/11 terror attack trial, India Thursday had conveyed its "in-principle agreement" to allow a second judicial commission from Pakistan to visit Mumbai and cross-examine the officials involved in recording the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist.

"Meanwhile, foreign ministers will be meeting and they will explore the possibility of what can be achieved to facilitate a purposeful visit of mine to Pakistan," the prime minister said. In New Delhi, Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, said that the home ministry is consulting with the judicial authorities. "We will respond after completing inter-ministerial consultations on the issue," he said.

Krishna heads to Islamabad on a three-day visit Sept 7 for talks with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar to review the second round of the dialogue process the two countries revived in February last year after a long hiatus following the 26/11 attack.

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