New Delhi: CNN-IBN's Karan Thapar talked to minister for panchayati raj , Mani Shankar Aiyar on the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari's reassuring words to cooperate with India in the fight against terrorism and how Indian politicians respond to Zardari.
Karan Thapar: Mr Aiyar do you trust Asif Ali Zardari or is he being glibbed with his words?
Mani Shankar Aiyar : I think we should give him every possible chance. I think we should take what he says seriously. I think we should give him the opportunity to deliver. There is only one phrase of his which causes me concern. He says that 'if' he can find the camps then he will close them down. When you, I and everybody knows that there are camps there and that these camps have the back of official agencies of Pakistan such as the ISI and that their existence is known to people in Pakistan. So I would trip him up in saying 'if I can find those camps,' I would like to tell him that you would be able to carry real credibility with India if you just close down those camps like Benazir said that she would.
Karan Thapar: On the issue of director general of the ISI, Asif Ali Zardari says that there has been a miscommunique, he says that the Indian prime minister asked for a directing of the director general. Is that correct?
Mani Shankar Aiyar : I don't know. I was not party to the conversations. Let the ISI, whoever it is, come here, lets talk to him. It is an important beginning. If we can go further down the road as indicated by president Zardari, then this is not the last step, it is the first step towards a process of securing a 'mutual assistance agreement' as he calls it.
Karan Thapar: The press sense a snub. Are we right in sensing a snub over the fact that the DG of the ISI is not coming or is the press overreacting?
Mani Shankar Aiyar : The media is generally wrong Karan. I don't think we need to construe it in this line. I think we should begin with them and let's see where it goes.
Karan Thapar: Asif Ali Zardari also says that he would be prepared to cooperate with any investigations or inquiry whatsoever without hesitation. Is that reassuring or is that something that is really subject to delivery and we can only judge when he delivers?
Mani Shankar Aiyar : It has to be subject to delivery and we can only say yes or no when he delivers.
Karan Thapar: He has in recent weeks said many reassuring things, in an interview and at the Hindustan Times leadership summit. Does he simply say these for a sake because he knows that it has a good impact in India?
Mani Shankar Aiyar : I wouldn't worry about that whether he is doing it for effect or whether he is doing it sincerely. Dialogue never hurt anybody. We need to dialogue especially when there is a sense of crisis around. So, I think we should start the dialogue with him on the basis that he has proclaimed and let us see where it goes.
Karan Thapar: So, start the dialogue on trust but thereafter, it depends on his capacity to deliver and convince us he is sincere.
Mani Shankar Aiyar : I am just saying start the dialogue. Don't allow skeptisism to stand in the way of the dialogue. Let's begin the dialogue and let's see where it goes.
Karan Thapar:Today, there is widespread belief in India that there is evidence that connects back to Pakistan and proves or so it said that Pakistan was involved in the Mumbai terro. How substantial is this evidence in your judgement? .
Mani Shankar Aiyar : I haven't seen any of the evidence. So I can't say one way or the other. What seems to be certain is that there were Pakistani nationals involved. In many of the terror attacks within Pakistan and on the Pakistan establishment too, there are Pakistani nationals and we know that there are Pakistani organisations, organisations based in Pakistan which are really outlandish terrorist outfits and the government of Pakistan doesn't seem to have the will or the capacity to be able to control them. So clearly, there is a problem there, but I think we as Indias be clear in our mind that for there to be a link to Pakistan does not necessarily mean a link to the government of Pakistan. And it is for the government of Pakistan to be able to show that A, there is no link and B, to cooperate in ensuring that the evidence points to a Pakistani national or institution based in Pakistan, they act against them.
Karan Thapar:You are clearly making a distinction between the government of Pakistan and state of Pakistan and rogue institutions in that country or rogue individual and elements, therefore, I need to ask you one last question. Does what happened in Mumbai justify any form of military measure on behalf of India? .
Mani Shakar Aiyar: I don't know. I can't answer that question because I do know what is the nature of the evidence before the government of India. But I would hope that whatever tension there is, we try and defuse it by talking to Pakistan in appropriate ways by setting it up but I don't think we should dismiss what president Zardari had to say out of hat.
Karan Thapar:Thank you very much indeed.