Setting the ball rolling for the resumption of dialogue with Islamabad, Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna on Thursday announced that he would speak to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi soon after the end of the Parliament session on Friday.
Mr. Krishna is expected to discuss the possibility of a meeting with Mr. Qureshi as well as between the two Foreign Secretaries. These interactions were agreed upon by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Thimphu last week to address the trust deficit between the two countries. Subsequently the two Foreign Ministers agreed to get in touch after the end of the ongoing Parliament session.
Replying to clarifications in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, Mr. Krishna was positive about the prospects of the two countries normalising their relations in the light of free and frank discussions between the two Prime Ministers.
“An ideal situation has come about in transforming our relations. The mood, ambience, tone and tenor of the Pakistan Prime Minister were indeed encouraging and the Indian Prime Minister put across our core concern about terrorism.
“I am sure in the light of these discussions by the Prime Minsters we are in the right direction in trying to create trust and harmony. I am sure that ultimately the whole region will stand to benefit from the thaw with Pakistan,'' he said.
The Foreign Minister said the first steps towards reducing the distrust quotient by holding talks between the principals of the Foreign Ministries were being taken following Pakistan's assurance of “adequately'' meeting Indian concerns on terrorism.
A meeting between the Foreign Secretaries in February this year was intended to send the message to the people of Pakistan that India believes in “open door, open communication policy.''
Terming the beheading of a Sikh in Pakistan as “heinous and inhuman,'' the Minister pointed to the unequivocal condemnation by its President Asif Ali Zardari and his assurance of providing adequate security in keeping with his declaration of Pakistan being a pluralistic nation.
Mr. Krishna said India was involved in reconstruction work in Afghanistan at the request of its government. “It behoves India that whenever such an invitation comes we should go there and do our humble bit…India is not militarily involved and our volunteers have gone there to help Afghanistan to be self-reliant and self-confident. No doubt there are elements not disposed to be happy with cordial India-Afghan relations. We have lost valiant men but let me assure you that our involvement is going to continue and not going to be deterred by such attacks,'' he declared.