India and Pakistan on Wednesday eschewed rhetoric while opting for a gradual approach to take forward the broad-based dialogue process aimed at improving ties.
Speaking to journalists after Foreign Ministers S.M. Krishna and Hina Rabbani Khar met at the Hyderabad House here, Foreign Secretaries Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir said the intention behind this interaction was to demonstrate the political will to craft a new relationship that became unhinged after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The Ministers announced the enhancement of confidence-building measures (CBMs) to improve trade and movement of people across the two Kashmirs. They agreed to hold separate expert-level meetings in Islamabad after a few months to finalise conventional and nuclear CBMs. The Ministers plan to meet in Islamabad in the first half of next year to review the progress of the dialogue process after the second round of post-Mumbai line Ministry talks.
While finalising the CBMs for cross-Line of Control (LoC) travel and trade, they decided to adopt the IT mode for considering application forms and put a processing time limit of 45 days.
A joint statement released after the ministerial talks mentioned the near-finalisation of a revised visa agreement replacing the present onerous one that embitters applicants, instead of assisting in people-to-people contacts.
Both sides decided to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation with the involvement of the relevant ministries and agencies to bring those responsible for terror crimes to justice. Ms. Rao said that below-the-media radar interactions helped establish a “certain medium” to exchange views on the issue.
But that did not mean revival of the Anti-Terror Mechanism, and India put on the table its continuing concern at the glacial pace of the trial in Pakistan of those culpable for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
There was no consensus on including more subjects in the dialogue process but the India-Pakistan Joint Commission, which had covered a lot of ground in this respect, will be revived to identify more areas.
On water sharing, the Ministers and officials reposed faith in the Indus Water Treaty. They indicated that a “kind of direction had been set” to remove misgivings on the part of the lower riparian country.
What stood out in the ministerial public read-outs and at the Foreign Secretaries' media interaction were the repeated mention of the desire to “adopt a cooperative mode on all matters to take the relationship forward” and the sidestepping of nearly all contentious issues.