Pakistan to raise Malegaon-Samjhauta link in next round of talks

November 21st, 2008 - 11:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) Even as India awaits Pakistan’s response on the Indian embassy blast in Kabul at next week’s meeting of home secretaries, it is bracing up for Pakistan to raise the alleged links of an Indian army officer with the Samjhauta Express bombing last year.“We expect Pakistan to raise the Samjhauta Express case,” said a highly-placed source, referring to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad linking the Malegaon bomb suspect, Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit to the Feb 18, 2007, Samjhauta Express blasts, in which 68 people, mostly from Pakistan, were killed.

The home secretaries of the two countries will be meeting in Islamabad on Nov 25.

On Thursday, the Pakistani foreign ministry spokesperson said in Islamabad that the Samjhauta case would be raised formally. “As you know a number of Pakistani citizens died in that blast. We will be asking the Indian authorities to share their findings on Samjhauta Express explosion with us,” he said.

Pakistani officials are likely to point out that ATS’s findings reflect their position that India should not point fingers at them.

Earlier, India had handed over lists of names and phone numbers of suspects in Pakistan of the Samjhauta Express during the previous meetings of the Joint Anti-Terrorist Mechanism.

“We will tell them that it is an example of how open-minded we are. We don’t know or decide who the accused will be… it is a matter of following the investigation,” the highly-placed Indian source said.

Meanwhile, Indian officials will see if Pakistan reverts back with any further information on the Indian embassy bombing in Kabul earlier this year.

“In the last meeting (in October), Pakistan had not been knee-jerk in their reaction and had said that they will investigate whatever information we give them. So, let’s see this time, what do they revert back with,” he said.

November will be an important month for India-Pakistan interaction, with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi landing in Delhi on Nov 26.

His earlier visit in June was curtailed short, following the death of his mother-in-law.

During his visit, Qureshi will meet political leaders of all hues in the capital, before travelling to Chandigarh to attend a seminar along with External Afairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. He will also travel to Ajmer and Jaipur.

Interestingly, the highly-placed source characterised bilateral ties as being much better than the low point it had reached after the embassy blast.

He noted that intrusions across the Line of Control have also gone down. “While cynics could say that it is due to the weather, but we noticed that intrusions had come down compared to June and July.”

The bilateral trade is also “booming”, with officials putting the figure at $2.6 billion. The unofficial bilateral volume is, however, three times more at $6 billion.

On the recent US think-tank report linking the Kashmir issue with resolving the Afghanistan imbroglio, the official pointed out that the source of the Afghan problem was not on this side of the border.

“Even the Pakistanis think that it is an internal problem. So, if the West thinks that by dumping it on us, they can escape - they are sadly mistaken,” he said.

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