Indications are that Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram may adhere to his pre-decided schedule and may not be available for the lunch, to be hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari here on Sunday.
On a private visit, President Zardari will be going to Ajmer Sharif Dargah and will attend a lunch at Race Course Road residence of Dr. Singh. President Zardari is likely to be accompanied by a 40-member delegation which may also have Pakistan Interior Minister Rahman Malik.
Informed sources pointed out that Mr. Chidambaram has not shied away from making public his unhappiness over Islamabad’s unwillingness to take action against the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and in such circumstances, his reluctance to meet his Pakistani counterpart.
Mr. Chidambaram, who is away to the North-East on an official tour, is likely to travel to Tamil Nadu on Friday and remain there till Sunday evening, giving a miss to the lunch at Race Course Road. So far there is no official word on whether he would return to the Capital on Sunday afternoon to be in time for the Prime Minister’s lunch.
Last year as well, the Home Minister had preferred to stay away from meeting Mr. Malik who had accompanied Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for the India-Pak cricket match at Mohali.
During his monthly press conference on March 31, Mr. Chidambaram, while welcoming the U.S. bounty for 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafiz Saeed, had slammed Pakistan for being “in denial” and failing to take any action despite India constantly demanding Saeed’s arrest and interrogation.
Recalling that during his visit to Islamabad a lot of material, containing CDs of Saeed’s speeches, had been given to Pakistan, Mr. Chidambaram regretted inaction on the part of Islamabad, saying Pakistan was not doing its duty.
He also said that during his visit to Islamabad he was given assurance of getting voice samples of Saeed but Pakistan had gone back on its promise on one ground or the other. “They said voice samples cannot be given without consent of the concerned person,” he said.
So far, no dates have been fixed for Home Secretary R. K. Singh’s long overdue visit to Islamabad. Pakistan Home Secretary had visited New Delhi in March 2011 and it was decided that both the Home Secretaries would meet regularly, preferably on a bi-annual basis.