ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - India’s foreign minister said he would press Pakistan on the progress of its probe into the Mumbai attacks as he arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday for talks aimed at reviving a peace process broken off after the assault.
The remarks by S.M. Krishna came as a top Indian security official accused Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, ISI, of controlling and coordinating the 2008 attacks on the Indian financial capital that killed 166 people.
“We hope to discuss all issues of mutual interest and concerns that can contribute to restoring trust and building confidence in our bilateral relationship,” Krishna told reporters at Islamabad airport upon arrival.
Krishna said he was looking forward to receiving feedback from Pakistan on India’s “core concern of terrorism.”
Krishna and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi are due to meet on Thursday as part of efforts to revive a peace dialogue crucial not only for improving their ties but also the security outlook in Afghanistan where the two countries vie for influence.
“India is committed to resolving all issues with Pakistan through a peaceful dialogue and negotiations based on mutual trust and confidence,” Krishna said.
India last year linked Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) with the attacks, saying the perpetrators were “clients and creations” of the agency. Pakistan has denied the charge.
Just hours before Krishna’s arrival, Indian Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, in remarks published in Indian Express newspaper on Wednesday, said the ISI did not have “just a peripheral role” in Mumbai assault.
“They (ISI) were literally controlling and coordinating it from the beginning till the end,” the newspaper quoted Pillai as saying.
India has blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants for the Mumbai attacks and has also linked ISI to the attacks, which Pakistan denied. Pillai’s comments were the most direct accusation yet of Pakistan by India.
Pillai said the evidence against the ISI emerged from the interrogation by Indian officials of a Chicago man, David Headley, who pleaded guilty to working with LeT to plan the attacks.
Krishna said the issue was discussed during last month’s visit of Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram to Pakistan and he would raise it again in talks with Qureshi on Thursday.
“I also look forward to receiving feedback on the issues raised ... particularly in the light of discussions our Home Minister had in Pakistan in the context of the interrogation of David Coleman Headley regarding the Mumbai terrorist attack.”
India broke off a 4-year-old peace process with Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks, saying reviving the dialogue would depend on action against LeT and its chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who New Delhi says masterminded the assault.
Pakistan has put seven Islamist militants on trial for the Mumbai attacks but has maintained that India has not provided enough evidence to prosecute Saeed.
Pillai said Saaed’s role in Mumbai attacks was not “peripheral”: “He knew everything.”
Additional reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee in New Delhi; Editing by Chris Allbritton