India, Pak take a leap of faith
India and Pakistan today took a significant step aimed at normalising relations and reducing nerve-sapping tensions on both sides of the 63-year-old divide that has seen four wars.
Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik, while addressing the media jointly, today said: “The two countries have resolved to be united in the fight against terrorism.” The response was articulated after a series of tense meetings since last evening and Pakistan promised to take the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to the logical end.
The ministers called in the media for a hurriedly convened meeting. Malik announced that Pakistan’s Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) and the CBI will coordinate on terrorism and investigate the Mumbai attack. Chidambaram, who came here on a mission to do some plain speaking, said: “We should address the situation with all the seriousness it deserves. I will go back with the conviction that this will be done.” Malik agreed with his counterpart and said: “I endorse what he is saying. Our resolve is to fight terror and take perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to the logical end”.
In what could be a telling statement on the long-term relations of the two countries, Chidambaram said: “We have agreed to work together. We have agreed that the outcome will be good. Nobody is questioning the intentions. We are looking at the outcome. It will decide if we are on the right track.”
Earlier, India had listed out “bitter truths” and conveyed them to Pakistan. Chidambaram, in a press conference in the afternoon, said India wanted more action against those involved in the Mumbai terror attack and expressed confidence of a “positive outcome” in the matter after meeting Malik.
He said India believes that more people were behind the attacks and they should be prosecuted. “We are trying to pick up the threads. We have tried to identify what needs to be done other than what has already been done.”
Malik, in a separate interaction, said: “India has extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan and we accept it we have also extended the hand of friendship we both have to work together against the terrorists. No act of terrorism will be allowed to originate from the Pakistan soil to launch an attack like Mumbai or elsewhere. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the mindset has to be changed. We want our young generation to remain away from such terror elements.”
In a way, Malik expressed helplessness at the situation in Pakistan, saying: “At times even the father cannot control his son.” There was also an obvious reference to the planner of Mumbai attacks David Coleman Headley who had left Pakistan as a child. Malik said: “If some Pakistani leaves the country as a child and then goes onto to commit an act of terror, how can his home country or his family be at fault.”
The Indian flag was displayed upside down when Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram and his counterpart Rehman Malik met for the one-to-one on Friday night. The sharp eye that the Indian Home Minister has, he pointed out the error and it was corrected.
This is the second time that Pakistan got the Tricolour wrong. When former Pakistan President General Parvez Musharraf landed in New Delhi for the famous, yet failed Agra summit, the Indian flag was displayed upside down on his special aircraft and later corrected.
On Saturday morning, Chidambaram tried to downplay the incident calling it a “minor mistake”. “I don’t think we should make much of it. The flag was later put right,” he said.