Expect no grand gestures at India-Pak Home Ministers meeting

     If I was Hafiz Saeed, I wouldn't be too worried a man today. India will not make any grand demand on Pakistan to hand him over and neither will Pakistan promise to prosecute the Amir of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Indian officials have said not to expect any bold decisions or announcements regarding any kind of sharing of terror related information. Grand gestures are only made when there is a basic sharing of information and clarity of purpose and intent said a source. At present there is too much of suspicion and mistrust, which will have to be dispelled before any ambitious step is embarked upon, said the official. Indian officials who prepared the initial background work for the historic visit of the Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram to Islamabad said that the Indian side was seeing the bilateral meeting as an opportunity to put across its point of view. India has asked for the voice samples of three Pakistanis including Hafiz Saeed. This would prove once and for all the involvement of the so-called non-state actors (as Pakistan calls them) in plotting; planning and executing the Mumbai terror attacks of 26/11. So far as the Pakistani establishment's plea has been that the evidence provided by India has been "literature" and that Pakistani courts have acquitted the accused because the evidence against them is not sufficient. The Indian official said today that getting the voice samples of the three people is necessary for Pakistani law enforcing authorities if they are honest in their intent. The Dawn also reports "Indian officials also appeared to have reconciled with Pakistan's difficulties in confining Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed because of superior courts' directives." Indian officials who spoke to the media today ahead of the Home Minister's interaction with Pakistan Interior Minister also seemed to suggest that India has all but accepted that the internal systems in Pakistan have collapsed and there is little hope in harping about Hafiz Saeed or Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi. Quoting Pakistani sources the Indian official said that 320 persons, including 120 terrorists have been released following court orders in 2010-11. India probably has now come to the conclusion that there is no point in fixating on Saeed, Lakhvi and the 12 or more others. Not to mention Dawood Ibrahim. The demand to prosecute them still stands but to put India-Pakistan talks on hold till such a time that Saeed is convicted for Mumbai attacks serves no purpose. Saeed and Lakhvi are too important for Pakistani security agencies to allow them to agree to hand them over to India or even try them in their own country. They know too much and matter too much to some very high-ranking officials in Rawalpindi. Commenting on the almost farcical level of these arrests and acquittals an Indian official said, nobody even knows whether the person rotting in jail is actually Lashkar commander Lakhvi. A man could easily have been paid to say he is Lakhvi and spend a few months in jail while the real Lakhvi is free to roam around the country plotting, planning and executing terror attacks. The suspicion and distrust is so great between the Indian and Pakistani sides that there seems to be little chance of any real information sharing in the coming weeks on cross border terrorism. India realizes that there are limitations to what the Gilani administration can deliver; so when Pakistan promises the moon, i.e act on 26/11 perpetrators, it means little. However, to belittle the other side would serve no purpose. Engagement is necessary. That is what India has decided. And a sustained engagement with baby steps. Ambitious moves to start hot lines between Chiefs or RAW (India's external intelligence agency) and ISI (Pakistan's all encompassing agency) and institutionalized cooperation between Intelligence Bureaus of India and Pakistan will remain just a matter of conjecture and rumours.

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