NEW DELHI - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he told Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that a deal on Sir Creek was “doable”, indicating that a breakthrough on the vexed issue was possible.
“I also said (in the Tehran meeting) Sir Creek, which we had talked about during his (Zardari’s) visit to Ajmer, was doable,” Singh told the media. Talks continue in long-running disputes between India and Pakistan, including the 60-mile Sir Creek, a strip of water in uninhabited marshlands which opens up into the Arabian Sea.
The Indian prime minister said that tangible progress by Pakistan to prosecute the 26/11 accused might provide necessary grounds for him to travel across the border. Singh said that both top leaders of Pakistan, Zardari and Rehman Malik, were certain that they will do whatever is possible to them, subject to the vagaries of the judicial process.
“It might be true that Pakistan is doing all that it could do to deal with terrorism directed against India from Pak soil. The court trial of Mumbai massacre is a vital test of Pakistan’s honesty to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.
About the LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, the alleged main culprit behind 26/11 attack, the PM said India would not let anyone go off the hook. “Those who have committed wrong have to be brought under appropriate justice mechanism.”
Indian media quoted sources as saying that PM Singh was looking at January for a possible visit. There is no way he will be allowed to go before December, when Gujarat polls are due. But the domestic political climate in India might take unexpected turns after that.
In Pakistan too, a caretaker government should be in place at the time, as Islamabad is due to go in for general elections in March. Unconfirmed reports abound that the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal may get an extension to cover the PM’s visit.
The PM’s favourite private secretary Jaideep Sarkar, too, has been kept back from taking up his ambassadorial position in Israel. He was appointed a few months ago, but is yet to take up his assignment because he is indispensable to Singh.
Foreign minister S M Krishna will be in Pakistan next week, to wrap up one set of composite dialogue and begin another. He is also expected to sign a MoU with Pakistan. Commerce secretaries of both countries are also due to meet soon to take decisions on Customs, dispute settlement etc. as well as opening up the land border for trade.