Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar returned from India on Thursday evening with the conviction that New Delhi is interested in a stable Pakistan and wants to normalise relations with Islamabad. Conscious of the deep-rooted sentiment in both countries, she sought space from the public in general and media in particular for allowing this turn in the relationship to stay its course.

Without once denying the divergences that exist in views on various outstanding issues, Ms. Khar's counter to questions on India's refusal to meet Pakistan halfway on Kashmir was: “What would you prefer: Allowing these differences to widen or work together to build bridges.”

Speaking to journalists on her arrival, the Minister said India was sending out positive feelers and “let us accept that the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks are a sensitive issue for Indians.” Addressing the Pakistani peeve over India making the dialogue process hostage to the Mumbai terror attacks, she said: “We have told them there is no intentional delay on the part of Pakistan in bringing the accused here to book and pointed out the delays in their processes also.”

On the vexed water issue — something that analysts say has the potential to become as sore as Kashmir — Ms. Khar said both countries were one in wanting to maintain the sanctity of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). In fact, she added, it was extremely important for Pakistan by virtue of being a lower riparian State. Stating that sky was the limit as far as bilateral trade is concerned, Ms. Khar said both countries were well aware of the challenges in the relationship but were equally determined to have an honest dialogue to work through the problems in the hope of creating a friendly neighbourhood.

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