Bilateral talks between India and Pakistan that began in 2004 have been put on hold in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, news reports said yesterday.
“I do admit there is a pause in the composite dialogue process because of the attacks on Mumbai,” Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee was quoted as saying by the Times of India newspaper.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Srinagar, the minister said: “We are now waiting to see whether the assurances they have given us are taken to their logical conclusion.”
India has alleged the Pakistan-based Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind last month’s Mumbai terrorist attacks, which killed more than 170 people. It demanded Pakistan take action against militant groups based on its territory.
Meanwhile, Islamabad is seeking “leads” from India to help with investigations into the Mumbai attacks, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.
“We want India to provide us leads and we will follow up,” he told reporters in Islamabad yesterday.
“There is no concrete evidence from India” of the involvement of elements in Pakistan, he said.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has denied any government link and pledged to take action against anyone found to have been involved.
Pakistan this month detained suspected militants linked to Jamaat ud-Dawa, which a UN Security Council panel said was a front for terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba group blamed by India for the attacks. Jamaat ud-Dawa has denied involvement.
“Pakistan is a responsible country,” Qureshi said.
Pakistan has proposed a meeting of the two country’s foreign ministers to work out details of a joint investigation into the Mumbai attacks, he said.
In other developments, some Bollywood producers have already registered film titles about the Mumbai attacks. Many of the proposed names focus on the city’s Taj Mahal hotel, where a tense 60-hour standoff erupted into fierce gun battles between militants who had stormed the building on Nov. 26 and crack commandos outside.
“We’ve had about 20 to 25 titles registered so far,” said Sushma Shiromanee, vice-president of the Indian Motion Pictures and Producers’ Association.
Titles include “The Taj Encounter,” “Taj Terror,” “Terrorist Attack on the Taj,” “Operation Five Star Mumbai” and “Taj to Oberoi,” the last referring to the Oberoi/Trident hotel that was also seized.
Each title has been registered for 250 rupees (US$5). Producers retain the title for 12 months and can renew the copyright for up to three years. If the film is not made, another producer can use the name, Shiromanee said.