ISLAMABAD: The Union Home Minister, Mr P Chidambaram on Friday night met his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Rehman Malik and is understood to have pressed for urgent action against JuD chief, Hafiz Saeed and 26/11 handlers, including those who are believed to be in the Pakistani Army.
Mr Chidambaram, the first Indian Home Minister to visit Pakistan in three decades, met Mr Malik at the interior ministry here, where he was accorded a red-carpet welcome and given a ceremonial guard of honour.
In a special gesture, Mr Malik went to the Chaklala Air Base in Rawalpindi and personally received Mr Chidambaram, who arrived to attend the SAARC home ministers’ conference on Saturday.
On their way to the VIP lounge, both Mr Chidambaram and Mr Malik were seen talking to each other and posed for photographs.
During the meeting, Mr Chidambaram, the first Indian minister to visit Pakistan after the 26/11 strikes, is believed to have told Mr Malik that the time has come for Pakistan to address issues concerning the deadly Mumbai attacks with seriousness that they warrant.
The Indian Home Minister is also understood to have sought action against Saeed, whom New Delhi considers as the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks, and handlers, including those who are believed to be serving in the Pakistani Army, of the deadly attack that killed 166 people.
Mr Chidambaram is also believed to have sought voice samples of the Pakistani handlers and raised issues like infiltration on the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistanis who have infiltrated and are indulging in militant activities.
Speaking to reporters accompanying him in the special aircraft, Mr Chidambaram said he will not say anything that will cast a shadow on the SAARC home ministers’ meeting, which is primary engagement in Islamabad.
He said he will tell Pakistan “politely, but firmly” that the time has come to address issues concerning the Mumbai attacks.
“I will use the opportunity to bring home to Pakistan gravity of issues and the need for response that is appropriate to the gravity of the situation,” he said.
“It has been 18 months since I took over. The time has come to address these issues (regarding Mumbai attacks) with seriousness that they warrant. That is what I am going to tell them politely, but firmly,” Mr Chidambaram said.
After meeting Mr Malik, Chidambaram will also call on the Foreign Minister, Mr Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Asked whether he would raise the issue of Hafiz Saeed with Mr Malik, Mr Chidambaram said: “Hafiz Saeed is one among them. There are controllers, there are handlers, so we need to know what action they will take against them. These matters cannot be ignored for ever. Somebody has to address these issues sometime or the other.”
Asked whether Pakistan had declined to give voice samples at any point of time, Mr Chidambaram said one of the dossiers given by Pakistan said a couple of people had declined to give their voice samples pleading self-incrimination.
“To me, that is not a legally tenable position,” he said.
Mr Chidambaram said Pakistan can surely give voice samples of handlers as it is universally acknowledged that handlers were in Pakistan.
“We think we know who the handlers were. Surely, they can give us voice samples. We have recordings on our side.”
When asked whether India will accept Pakistan giving voice samples to any third country, he said: “I suggested one time that don’t give it to us. Give it to a third country so that it is subjected to forensic analysis in a third country.
Asked whether Pakistani Army personnel were among the handlers of the 26/11 attackers, he said: “If you are quoting from the dossier (that India gave to Pakistan) you are quoting correctly. But I do not know whether they are real names or assumed names.”
Asked whether the handlers included two Pakistani Army Majors, Mr Chidambaram said: “That is what the dossier said.”
On whether he would raise the Headley connection to the attacks, he said he won’t do it directly.
Hours before the meeting, Mr Malik said he will “satisfy” the Indian leader on the issue of Saeed.
Mr Malik said “instead of exchanging dossiers” the two countries should “exchange hearts”.
“Hafiz Saeed is an issue. And we will also satisfy Mr Chidambaram on that. We have no problem in that,” Mr Malik told an Indian television channel, when asked about India’s insistence to discuss about Mr Saeed.
Mr Malik said the two countries will discuss all issues with a view to resolve the problems that exist between the two countries.