NEW DELHI - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cancelled his visit to Pakistan saying it was not the right time to embark on it.
Manmohan Singh wrote to President Asif Ali Zardari last month saying that while he still wanted to visit Pakistan, this was not the right time.
In his letter, which was delivered to Zardari's office by the Indian high commission in Islamabad, Singh recalled how he had always told Pakistani leaders that he wanted to visit the country. Thanking Zardari for his invitation, Singh said it was not conducive for him to visit Pakistan at the time mentioned by the president in his invitation.
Keeping hopes still alive for the much awaited trip, though, Singh said in his letter that he still wanted to visit Pakistan and carry forward ties between the two nations. He also said the two sides will continue to look for the right opportunity for his visit to Pakistan. Considering the narrow window, as an official put it, ahead of elections in Pakistan, it is now clear that the visit will not take place even early next year.
There has been wild speculation in the media for months about whether or not Singh will visit Pakistan anytime soon. The foreign ministry sought to scotch this when its officials suggested on November 16 that it may not be possible for Singh to visit Pakistan anytime soon but did not mention Singh's response to Zardari. They also said that India felt a sense of hurt over how the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks had not been brought to justice yet. One of the perpetrators of 26/11, Ajmal Kasab, was hanged five days later. Sources confirmed that Singh wrote to Zardari well before that.
Sources said Singh did not attach any pre-condition for his visit to Pakistan. There was no mention of the Mumbai attacks or the delay, as alleged by India, in bringing the guilty to justice through the ongoing trial in Pakistan. They said it also had nothing to do with the hanging of Kasab. "The fact is that PM would have found it difficult to visit Pakistan just two days after the anniversary of Mumbai attacks - when the main accused have still not been brought to book - in any case,'' said a source.