Krishna gives a skip to Qureshi, India-Pakistan chill deepens (Lead)

Port of Spain, Nov 29 ( A year after the Mumbai terror attacks, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan were in this Trinidad and Tobago capital but did not meet for talks, indicating a deepening chill in their ties.

With India making it clear that Pakistan needs to do more to punish the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks and dismantle the sanctuaries for terrorists, there was little hope of any attempt at diplomatic contact to resume the stalled dialogue.

“Pakistan has done little to address our concerns. There is little to be achieved by another meeting,” official sources said.

Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi were here to attend the foreign ministers meeting of the Commonwealth countries Nov 25-26.

Qureshi is also representing Pakistan at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Earlier, either Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani or President Asif Ali Zardari were expected to come to attend the summit but kept away from it due to the domestic situation.

Four days ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in Washington that his government will not rest till the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks were brought to justice and asked Pakistan to dismantle the terror infrastructure and all safe havens of terrorism.

The prime minister had stressed that since the conspiracy was basically hatched in Pakistan, it was their obligation to punish the masterminds of 26/11 attacks. Over 160 people were killed when 10 Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai and unleashed mayhem in the city Nov 26-28 last year.

“It’s our strong feeling that the government of Pakistan can do more to bring to book the perpetrators and masterminds of the ghastly crime who move about freely in Pakistan,” Manmohan Singh said.

Venting Pakistan’s frustration at the Indian response to its repeated pitch for the resumption of dialogue, Qureshi said here that Islamabad wants “serious talks” with India and not “photo opportunities”.

In an interview with CNN-IBN, Qureshi said India has not given enough evidence to nail Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai carnage.

“I have always welcomed a meeting but it has to be a meaningful meeting. I has to be a dialogue which has to be result oriented,” Qureshi said. “(India has) to respond, so far (India has) failed to respond. We are no longer interested in a photo opportunity,” he said.

Qureshi stressed that the there was always the possibility of India and Pakistan resuming talks, but it must be “free of conditions”.

“The possibility is there, you need political will… we have to get out of the old mindset. We have a common element… let’s join hands to defeat the common element and if we miss that opportunity then we have not served over a billion people living in the subcontinent,” he said.