New Delhi: Details of
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Pakistan are being worked
out, though no date has been set, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao
"Our prime minister has been invited by (Pakistani) Prime Minister (Yousuf
Raza) Gilani to visit Pakistan. Obviously, a visit of this nature
has to be very carefully prepared. We will have to do a lot of
homework," she said.
The meeting between the leaders at Mohali in Punjab March 30 on the
sidelines of the cricket World Cup semifinal between the two
countries, "has given a new direction" to the bilateral
relationship, Rao said in an interview to Karan Thapar on CNBC TV
18's "India Tonight" programme, telecast Wednesday.
"I think the fact that our two prime ministers have met at Mohali
generated a very positive impact. And I think every such meeting not
just builds atmosphere but it also creates a sense of direction, a
sense of positive orientation," she said.
Manmohan Singh had invited Gilani to Mohali after India and Pakistan
advanced to the World Cup semifinal.
Asked about reports that Manmohan Singh's invitation was a personal
decision, she said: "The decision was obviously the prime
minister's. And we in MEA (ministry of external affairs), since we
in a sense are practitioners of the policy that the government sets
down in this regard, are obviously part of this process."
She said that the government favoured a "graduated approach, which
included more people-to-people contact".
The foreign secretary described the meeting between the two home
secretaries in New Delhi March 28-29 as pathbreaking.
Rao also said that the government had faith in the Pakistani
government led by Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari and believed
that it had the support of the army.
"What we sought to do at Mohali and what the two prime
ministers...through their meeting were able to convey was that at
the leadership level, there is a sense of commitment to looking at
the entire process of India-Pakistan relations, stressing the need
for a sustained, serious and comprehensive dialogue.
"The goal of this dialogue is normalisation of relations, something
that has eluded us for the last 60 years," Rao said.
She said that India was open to renewing cricketing contacts with
Regarding the probe into the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack by
Pakistani militants which killed 166 civilians from India and
abroad, Rao expressed hope that India would get voice samples of the
Rao said the "wounds of 26/11 have not healed as yet".
"I think we would do wrong to the people who lost their lives and
the families who continue to grieve as a result of what happened so
tragically in Mumbai, if we were to say that 26/11 is behind us,"
"There is an ongoing trial in Pakistan, there are questions still to
be answered, there is evidence to be scrutinised, there is need for
agencies in both countries to cooperate better in this regard.
"I think there is a sentiment in this country in India and there is
grief still which has not died. Let me put it this way, our grief
cannot die when it comes to 26/11," she said.