OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.

The second round of Indo-Pak Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism (ATM) will be held on October 22, an External Affairs Ministry statement said. Meetings on conventional and nuclear confidence building measures will be held on October 18 and 19 respectively, it also said. The Indian side will be represented by K C Singh, Additional Secretary (International Organisations) in the External Affairs Ministry. The second meeting, which should have taken place in June, had been delayed as Pakistan’s pointsman for the discussions -Tariq Osman Haider- Additional Secretary in the Foreign Ministry, had retired. The first meeting of ATM was held in March, in a follow up to the decision taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Havana in September last year. The two sides had decided to hold the meetings every three months but it did not materialise.

After his now infamous Havana Handshake, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sold the ATM as the only credible response to Mumbai 7-11 Bomb Blasts. Its over 14 months since 7-11 and more than 6 months since the first meeting of the ATM.

Offstumped takes a hard look at the farce the ATM has been and revisits the Litmus Test it had set out last year when the mechanism was first announced.

First what expectations did the Prime Minister set of the ATM.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 18th  2007will be a test of Pakistani intentions and capabilities to implement the assurances that they have given us since January 2004

As Offstumped had pointed out earlier there was a deliberate dumbing down of expectations before the first meeting by the External Affairs Ministry. Then you had the first meeting in March, interesting to note that neither the Ministry of External Affairs nor the Press Information Bureau carried a press release on the outcomes of the first meeting. However there was a Press Briefing that happened in New Delhi. The Carnegie Endowment has carried a transcript of that Press Briefing. T

The briefing was illuminating on how much the ATM had been diluted during the first meeting itself. Far from being a test of “Pakistani intentions and capabilities” the first meeting was pretty much spent discussing the parameters of the mechanism. Specifically

specific information will be exchanged through the Mechanism for (i) Helping investigations on either side related to terrorist acts and (ii) Prevention of violence and terrorist acts in the two countries.

This was pretty much it as far as any concrete details on the ATM that were shared. The spokesperon did a god job of stalling on all questions getting into details of evidence was shared. However the Spokesperson did set the Government up for a Litmus Test for the ATM with these remarks.

As far as we are concerned we will naturally judge the cooperation and efficacy by the results we achieve.

So here goes the Litmus Test for the ATM come October 22nd:

Litmus Test # 1 – Has the ATM been a test of Pakistani intentions and capabilities to implement assurances given since Jan 2004 ? If so what does the Government have to show ?

Litmus Test # 2 – Has the ATM helped investigations related to terrorist acts to date ? If so which specific incidents and what specific investigations ? Surely the Government cannot claim secrecy and confidentiality to allude to incidents where investigations have been pending for more than a year.

Litmus Test # 3 – Has the ATM helped prevent acts of violence and terrorism ? If so what plots were disrupted ? What attacks were pre-empted ? How many Terrorists were arrested or killed pre-emptively on account of the ATM ?

Litmus Test # 4 – Has the Government anything to show at all by way of results achieved so Indians at large can judge for themselves the cooperation and efficacy of the ATM ?

But for some noise from the BJP in the immediate aftermath of the Hyderabad Blasts the Sonia Gandhi Congress lead UPA Government has not been held to account politically for bungling internal security. The UPA Goverbment has been let off the hook from being measured on the success of instruments of anti-terror of its own choosing. Offstumped expects the BJP in its National Executive later this week to demand the Government either show evidence of success of the ATM.  Failing which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must face the nation and explain why the ATM has been a failure and what he intends to do next in response to the attacks of Mass Terror.

Offstumped Bottomline: The India Pakistan Joint Anti Terrorism Institutional Mechanism has been a farce. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must demonstrate honesty in accepting its failure and take responsibility for his Government’s delinquency in responding to attacks of Mass Terror.


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