Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad asked India on Wednesday to stop asking for 20 people it lists as its fugitives.
â€œIf you talk of lists, we shall also have to look into our own, some of which are extremely old,â€ he said referring to cases such as a first information report lodged against Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani at a Karachi police station in 1947 for planning to assassinate Pakistani leaders. It is for the first time that a Pakistani minister has openly raised the issue of Mr Advani to force India to stop demanding from Pakistan extradition of fugitives including Mumbaiâ€™s don Dawood Ibrahim who, according to Indian press reports, has shifted his base to Islamabad.The Daily Times.
“If you talk of lists then we will also have to go into old lists where in an FIR at Karachi the second and third political leadership of India has been named.”
To a specific question whether he was hinting at Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, Rashid said “akalmand ko ishara…”. Times of India.
By threatening to take out their ‘old list’ which includes an police report against LK Advani in 1947, Shiekh Rashid has equated a India’s Deputy Prime Minister with international smuggler-terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. This comes from Pakistan’s information minister, addressing the press in New Delhi, and who had arrived with a ‘short, sweet, smart’ message of peace ! This did’nt prevent him from insulting ‘the last hope’ Vajpayee either.
Is it with people like this that India wants to have a dialogue? It is understandable if Pakistan wants to be unapologetic and firm with respect to its negotiating position on Kashmir. But it continues to be unapologetic with respect to the terrorist means it has employed. Harbouring Dawood Ibrahim and Masood Azhar for example are criminal offences and the regrouping of jehadis in Pakistan is an international terorist threat. The least you would expect from a Pakistan which is sincere and ready for a ‘give-and-take’ negotiation is a signal that Musharraf would be willing to jettison its terrorist baggage. But there is no such signal. In its absence it would be a monumental folly to begin any sort of serious dialogue or discussion with Pakistan. Sheikh Rashid should be told in no uncertain terms that he cannot expect to score any points by (at least initially) praising Vajpayee and demonising Advani.
The confidence building measures were unnecessary too, and have almost certainly been seen by Pakistan as a sign of Indian weakness under US pressure.
Update: Strangely, Reuters seems to have bought the Pakistani pitch that this is a ‘charm offensive‘. LOL