New Delhi: Home minister P. Chidambaram’s proposed trip to the US to share evidence about the involvement of Pakistan-based groups in the Mumbai terror attacks has been cancelled even as a US Congressional research report said it may be time to evolve a new foreign policy for South Asia.
In less than two weeks, Barack Obama will take charge as the next president of the US. Mint could not immediately ascertain whether the home minister’s trip had been put off because of the imminent change in the US leadership.
According to a top official in the ministry of external affairs, or MEA, Chidambaram’s visit had been cancelled because India had already handed over evidence establishing links between the attacks and Pakistan-based “elements” to Pakistan and given copies to the US. The official did not want to be identified. When contacted, Chidambaram declined to comment. He had been expected to meet US homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in Washington.
Staying home: Home minister P. Chidambaram. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
Meanwhile, the report, “Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai, India and Implications for US Interests”, prepared by the Congressional Research Service for circulation among lawmakers, said the Mumbai attacks could complicate the US’ South Asia policy.
“Potential issues for the 111th Congress with regard to India include legislation that would foster greater US-India counterterrorism relations. With regard to Pakistan, Congressional attention has focused and is likely to remain focused on the programming and potential further conditioning of US foreign assistance, including that related to security and counterterrorism,” the report said.
Also See Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai and Implications for US Interests (PDF)
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Centre for Policy Research, a Delhi-based think tank, said the attacks have “re-hyphenated India and Pakistan in the US foreign policy” and “it would be a fair hypothesis to say that the Mumbai attacks were partly carried out to complicate US foreign policy”.
“I think it is now time that the US does a fundamental rethink on its Pakistan policy rather than its South Asia diplomatic efforts,” Mehta said.
Former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra said, “Much is going to depend on the (Joe) Biden visit. Obama is sending Biden, along with four colleagues, to see for themselves.” US vice-president-elect Joe Biden is scheduled visit to Pakistan this week.
Independently, Ted Osius, minister counsellor for political affairs at the US embassy in India, told a conference organized by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce on Thursday that the US would want to look at Russia as an alternative to route its supplies and equipment for bases in Afghanistan and thereby reduce reliance on Pakistan.
Ruhi Tewari, Rahul Chandran and Asit Ranjan Mishra and PTI contributed to this story.