Manmohan to take terror upfront with Zardari in NY (Lead)

September 23rd, 2008 - 2:03 am ICT by IANS  

On Board Air India One, Sep 22 (IANS) Even as Prime Minister Manmohan gets ready for some tough talk on cross-border terror and spike in infiltration and ceasefire violations with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in New York, India is not sure about how much clout Zardari has in the new dispensation marked by multiple centres of power.“We will discuss entire gamut of relationship (between India and Pakistan),” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters on board the special aircraft carrying the prime minister to New York via Frankfurt.

“These issues are part of the relationship. But the relationship is much more than that,” Menon said.

Manmohan Singh will meet Zardari at the United Nations headquarters in New York Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. This will be the first meeting between the two leaders since Zardari was elected Pakistan president Sep 9.

Manmohan Singh will also remind Zardari of Pakistan’s Jan 6, 2004 commitment not to allow its territory to be used for anti-India terror and take up the July 7 bombings of the Indian embassy in Kabul for which New Delhi has blamed Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).

Official sources suggested the prime minister’s meeting with Zardari would be an occasion to give a push to the peace process between the two countries and will give New Delhi a sense of Zardari’s position.

India concedes that Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism - as the deadly blasts at Marriot Hotel in the heart of Islamabad showed - but feels strongly that it did not detract from its alleged complicity in terror attacks in India.

“Whether Pakistan is a victim of terror or not, how does it change the situation?” said a senior official, who did not wish to be named.

India is closely watching shifting civil-military equations in Pakistan since a civilian regime came to power in Islamabad nearly six months ago.

There are multiple centres of power in Pakistan, a senior official accompanying the prime minister on the 10-day tour to the US and France said. He was alluding to New Delhi’s dilemma in carrying forward the peace process with Islamabad under the new dispensation.

“India would have to remain engaged with all of them. Look at the anarchy we are dealing with,” the official said.

“Zardari may not be in command but that does not mean he can’t do anything. After all, he gets legitimacy by shaking hands with Manmohan Singh,” the official said.

Alluding to Zardari’s address to Pakistan’s National Assembly Saturday where he spoke about reinventing ties with Pakistan, the official said he could not be given a ‘character certificate’ merely on the basis of what he says. “Today, he has to consolidate at home. He has many enemies.

“India is concerned that the ISI continues to be a source of trouble. And democratic forces in Pakistan are just not strong enough to deal with the notorious agency,” the official said.

Since April, there had been a series of ceasefire violations and other attempts at infiltration. However, New Delhi has found the new government in Pakistan wanting in dealing with the situation, official sources said.

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