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September 29, 2013

Indian FM Says Pakistan's Military Undermines Diplomacy

by Ayesha Tanzeem

India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, in an interview with Voice of America,  has said Pakistan's intelligence agency (ISI) and its military are trying to undermine Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's efforts to talk to India.

Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are due to meet Sunday in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. It is the first face to face meeting between the two leaders since Sharif was re-elected in May.

Khurshid told VOA Saturday that Sharif must find a way to keep Pakistan's military and ISI under control.   Referring to recent attacks in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 10 people he said, "We've been told that all the [Pakistani] government agencies are on the same page, but if they were, the things that are happening would not be happening."

Ahead of the much anticipated meeting between the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers in New York Sunday morning, Khurshid defended his prime minister’s strong criticism of Pakistan in his U.N. General Assembly address Saturday as “legitimate grievances.”
 
The Indian prime minister had blamed Pakistan for cross-border terrorism and said that “the epicenter of terrorism” is in Pakistan.

Mentioning the recent violence,  the foreign minister questioned how the recent attacks could have taken place without support from the ISI, adding that if Pakistan could not control "non-state actors" on its territory it should seek India’s help. 

“We expect them to handle non-state actors if they are non-state actors," Khurshid said.

Khurshid also said that India has provided evidence of the involvement of Pakistan in attacks on India, including the voice samples of the control room that handled the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed 164 people. 

“We can’t go into Pakistan and pick out the guy whose voice it is, Pakistan's government has to help us do it," he said. "So we’re saying either give the guy to us, or take action against him.”

Khurshid welcomed the mention of a “new beginning” in India-Pakistan relations by the newly elected Pakistani prime minister but said that based on its past experiences, India needed to “trust but verify” that Pakistan is serious about peace.

Among  the top issues the Indian prime minister is expected to raise with his Pakistani counterpart Sunday is Pakistan’s failure to bring the planners and executioners of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice.   According to India, several people who should be behind bars are roaming free while the ones that are under arrest have yet to finish their trials or face punishments.

“We need some accountability, or at least the beginning of accountability,” Khurshid said. “Only then we can start afresh.”