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India keen to see what Zardari has to offer it

By Renu Mittal on Board Prime Minister's Special Aircraft
September 23, 2008 01:36 IST
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Amidst increasing concerns within the Indian government that Pakistan President Asif Zardari was far from being in control of the situation in his country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to have a half hour meeting with him on September 24 at the UN headquarters in New York.

Conceding that multiple power centres had erupted in Pakistan and that the ISI continued to be the source of trouble for India in the wake of the Kabul bombing, highly-placed sources said the meeting with Zardari was important as various issues will be placed before him and India was keen to see what the Pakistan President had to put on the table in return.

This is in the context of the increasing ceasefire violations, where the Pakistani army hand is suspected, Kabul bombings, where the independent enquiry initiated by India has been completed but would not be made public by the government, and the increasing infiltration by terrorist organizations.

Sources say all these issues will be taken up by Dr Singh when he meets President Zardari.

The Indian government is more sceptical about the internal wrangling within Pakistan after the attack on Hotel Marriot in Islamabad, where over 100 kg of RDX was detonated -- indicating that the terror strike had the support of some elements within the establishment. 

Sources said the situation in Pakistan was bad and anarchy was prevalent, but the Indian government continued to be hopeful that, in his own self interest, Zardari would need to consolidate his position if he had to survive. And for the moment, he continued to be the best bet India had to deal with.

Senior officials were unwilling to speculate on the outcome of the meeting but said they were hopeful that something could be done.

In a brief interaction with the media accompanying the prime minister on his visit to the United Nations, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon said, "The entire gamut of India-Pakistan relations, which would cover our concerns, will be raised in the meeting with the Pakistani President. This would include terrorism, LOC violations but there is more to relations with Pakistan than these issues."

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Renu Mittal on Board Prime Minister's Special Aircraft