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Varon B K Sharma asked: What purpose was served by Home Minister P Chidambram going to Pakistan?

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  • Ashok Behuria replies: Indian Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram visited Pakistan (on 26 June 2010) primarily to attend the SAARC Home Ministers’ meet in Islamabad. This meeting concluded with a joint resolution for cooperation against terrorism in the region. It called for early adoption of the United Nations’ Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, an initiative that is being pursued actively by India at the moment. Moreover, there was also a "commitment" to implement the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol and a joint expression of resolve to ratify the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. There is a provision for extradition in this convention and if Pakistan ratifies this, it will be obliged to cooperate with India on various issues relating to terrorism. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Mr. Gilani, has, in the meanwhile, asked Interior Minister Malik to implement the declaration in letter and spirit. This is thus a positive development. However, it remains to be seen whether the Pakistan military will allow it.

    Chidambaram's meeting with his counterpart in Pakistan, Mr. Rehman Malik on the sidelines has drawn mixed response. Primarily aimed at addressing the issue of trust deficit, on the face of it the meeting may not have made much difference to the prevailing atmosphere in which efforts are being made to restart bilateral talks. The Pakistani media called it a 'delicate diplomatic dance' and many in India were angered by Malik's statement that Pakistan cannot stop Hafiz Muhammad Saeed from delivering his hate-speeches.

    This only suggests the continuing disinclination of the Pakistani military to take action against jihadist elements operating on Pakistani soil against India and the incapacity of the civilian government to take any positive step to address Indian concerns. The argument driving India’s approach is that Pakistan has to be engaged in spite of all this because disengagement has not served the purpose. Such diplomatic engagement can go hand in hand with (and without lowering our guard on) India’s efforts to strengthen its security machinery to counter the asymmetric threats emanating from across the border.