New Delhi, Nov 22 : India Thursday said that although it backed normalisation of relations with Pakistan through restoration of cricketing ties, Islamabad needed to speed up the investigation and trial relating to those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack.
India also made it clear that the issue of visas to Pakistani nationals coming to watch cricket matches at various venues in the country will be in accordance with extant rules and regulations.
This was conveyed by Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) in response to questions on the subject. The statement came a day after the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist captured alive during the Mumbai carnage.
"India continues to make efforts to build peaceful and stable relations with Pakistan. This includes promotion of sporting ties," said Ahamed. In the same breath, Ahamed reminded that "terrorism against India emanating from Pakistan and territory under its control remains a core concern for us".
"The government has conveyed to the Pakistan leadership, including at the highest levels, that Pakistan must abide by its commitment that it will not allow its territory and territory under its control to be used for aiding and abetting of terrorist activities against India and for providing sanctuaries to such terrorist groups."
"It has also been conveyed to Pakistan that an expeditious and successful conclusion of the investigation and trial relating to those involved in the Mumbai attack would be a major confidence building measure and would help bridge the trust deficit," Ahamed stressed.
Alluding to the government's clearance to the Board of Control for Cricket in India for Pakistan cricket team's tour to India from Dec 25 to Jan 6 next year, Ahamed clarified that the issue of visas to Pakistani nationals coming to India to watch cricket matches at various venues will be done in accordance with extant rules and regulations.
India and Pakistan will play three one day internationals and two Twenty-Twenty matches.
Reminding Pakistan of reports that suggested two alleged conspirators of Mumbai terror attack, as revealed by David Coleman Headley, visited New Delhi in 2005 on the pretext of watching India-Pakistan cricket match, New Delhi made it clear that visas will be granted after stringent scrutiny.
"The government continues to take steps to enhance and facilitate contacts between peoples of the two countries who lie at the heart of the bilateral relationship, including promotion of sporting ties."
The home ministry has already made it clear that Pakistani cricket fans coming to visit India to watch cricket matches will be required to have an Indian sponsor to get a visa. They will have to give details of a local sponsor in the visa application form besides attaching a copy of the match ticket.