With India-Pakistan talks on conventional confidence building measures (CBMs) failing to break new ground, New Delhi hopes that Islamabad will favourably consider its request to make progress on nuclear CBMs when the two sides discuss this aspect on Friday.
Both sides had several new conventional CBMs on the table on Thursday but there was no consensus on any of them. India has already recommended a gradual approach to reducing the heavy military presence on the border that, it feels, would be facilitated by promoting links between institutions of the armed forces, meetings between senior officers, relocation of heavy artillery and more flag meeting points.
But claims and counter-claims of frequent ceasefire violations — India puts the number at nearly three dozen this year alone — saw both sides agreeing to ensure that the present CBMs are maintained and to send the ideas discussed on Thursday to the two Foreign Secretaries.
“Many military CBMs can be considered if there is cessation of ceasefire violations and an end to infiltration. One can’t talk if there is a threat perception,” said an official. “The biggest CBM is peace and tranquillity along the border with Pakistan. Other CBMs are predicated on this. Our army is in a defensive posture and we have again conveyed this,’’ he said while terming the Pakistani approach “positive and constructive aimed at trying to narrow down divergences on several issues.’’
With progress on conventional CBMs stalemated, India will urge Pakistan to contribute to the advancement of disarmament by joining the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) negotiations. Pakistan is the only country blocking the FMCT, say officials here, while maintaining that India is expected to convey its readiness to join these negotiations.
The FMCT seeks to stop production of nuclear bomb making material and is thought to be the first step towards effective disarmament.
Pakistan claims asymmetry with India in the number of nuclear weapons and that matters have become more difficult after New Delhi’s civil nuclear initiative opened the doors to setting up large civil nuclear power plants. Officials here feel that if Pakistan is so worried, it should urge faster negotiations on the FMCT. “But Pakistan has a very ambitious nuclear programme and part of the Pakistani establishment is opposed to joining the FMCT,’’ they said.
India claimed a satisfactory record with Pakistan on other nuclear CBMs, especially the ones decided in 2005 and 2007, including the ballistic missile notification agreement. Both sides are very scrupulous on this score, said an official.
A joint statement said the Indian delegation to the sixth round of expert level talks on conventional CBMs was led by Y.K. Sinha, Additional Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) in the Ministry of External Affairs, and Pakistan by a matching rank officer Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry from its Foreign Office.
The statement said the two sides reviewed implementation of the existing CBMs, including ceasefire along the LoC, exchanged ideas to further advance the CBM process and reaffirmed their commitment to continue discussions with the aim of strengthening conventional CBMs.