Manmohan wanted NSA-level talks after conclusion of 26/11 trial: Former spl envoy Lambah

New Delhi, (IANS) With India and Pakistan on Friday deciding that their National Security Advisors would discuss issues related to terrorism, former Indian special envoy Satinder K. Lambah has said that Islamabad was always for meetings at that level but then prime minister Manmohan Singh wanted this to happen only after the satisfactory conclusion of the Mumbai terror attack trial in Pakistan.

Lambah, who worked with the former prime minister as his special envoy for a decade, told IANS on the sidelines of a book release function here that satisfactory conclusion of the trial of those accused in Mumbai terror attack of 2008 was vital for forward movement in ties between the two countries to improve.

“Pakistanis were always keen to have a meeting at the NSA level. The former prime minister (Manmohan Singh) was keen that these meetings should be held after Mumbai trial had been satisfactorily done,” Lambah told IANS.

Lambah said the movement during Friday’s talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif was mostly on terrorism.

“This appears to be a movement mostly in respect of terrorism because (of) all meetings agreed to,” he said.

Modi and Sharif held bilateral talks in the Russian city of Ufa on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

They agreed for a meeting in New Delhi between the two NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism, early meetings of director general of Border Security Force and director general Pakistan Rangers followed by that of DGMOs (Director General Military Operations).

Lambah, a former high commissioner to Pakistan and one of India’s most respected diplomats who has conducted a lot of back-channel negotiations with Pakistan, said that the mention about exchange of voice samples in the joint statement was a forward movement.

“The only forward movement to me is voice samples. If things like that can move, then yes. We have been wanting early exchange of voice samples and they were saying that their law do not allow it. Now if they are willing to move forward, very good. Things will move forward only if 26/11 trial is satisfactorily concluded fast, not just concluded,” Lambah said.

Asked if there had been flip-flop by the Modi government on its policy towards Pakistan, Lambah said there has been a consistent pattern of engagement.

“This is the third meeting (bewtween the two leaders) in thirteen-and-a-half months which is not bad. Foreign secretaries have met in Islamabad. High commissions are working in both countries, so there is engagement. The government to government dialogue is going on,” he said.

Asked about Modi agreeing to go to Pakistan for the SAARC summit next year, Lambah said India’s prime ministers in the past have gone to the neighbouring country for these summits.

Manmohan Singh was present at the function, organised by the Ananta Aspen Centre at the WWF-India Auditorium, for release of the book “The Making of Indian Diplomacy – A critique of eurocentrism” by Deep K. Datta-Ray. But he did not speak to reporters or at the event.

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