Against the backdrop of a liberalised visa pact and prospects of normal bilateral trade

With a liberalised visa agreement already sealed and prospects of normal trade on the horizon, Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan Ranjan Mathai and Jalil Jilani, will attempt to find more common ground during their two-day interaction beginning here on Wednesday. The two senior officials will announce the result of their deliberations at a news conference on Thursday.

One blip during the talks will be deportation of an Indian national from Saudi Arabia, alleged to be present in the Karachi-based control room of the Mumbai attackers. Official sources here said India would be submitting a dossier detailing the activities of Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, during and after the Mumbai attacks. The move has been welcomed in Islamabad, which claims to be in the dark about his role.

Pakistan too would be raising its terror concerns, particularly the progress of investigations into the bomb attack on the Samjhauta Express — allegedly by an extremist Hindu organisation — which claimed the lives of a large number of its nationals.

This is the second time after the Mumbai attacks that the Foreign Secretaries will be meeting to discuss three issues — peace and security including confidence-building measures, Jammu & Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges — after Ministries held talks on counter-terrorism (including progress on Mumbai trial) and narcotics control; humanitarian issues; commercial & economic cooperation; Wullar Barrage/Tulbul navigation project; Sir Creek and Siachen.

The stage for the talks was set with the arrival of Mr. Jalil Jilani. “Pakistan will support India in its fight against terrorism,” he told newspersons after crossing the land border in Punjab.

‘Message of goodwill’

On reaching Delhi, Mr. Jilani said he had been mandated by his leadership to take the peace process forward. “Let me tell you that I have brought a message of goodwill, peace and prosperity from the people of Pakistan and the government of Pakistan to the people of India and the leadership of India. I have brought good wishes and I am looking forward to my very constructive dialogue with my counterpart Mr. Ranjan Mathai. I have been mandated by the leadership to move this peace process forward.”

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