External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday ruled out kick-starting the dialogue process with Pakistan in the last leg of the UPA-II dispensation and was optimistic of striking an equilibrium with China on the issue of “stapled Chinese visas.”
Responding to queries about two archers from Arunachal Pradesh being prevented to travel to China owing to the visas being stapled instead of stamped on their passports, Mr. Khurshid said this “unsavoury and unacceptable” incident was the result of differing perceptions about the boundary and the Line of Actual Control.
Pointing out that this was not the first time this has happened, Mr. Khurshid added that over the years both India and China have come to an understanding that there were many areas of convergence where “we can collaborate, cooperate and move forward,” while addressing contentious issues through the mechanisms already in place.
Not fully versed with the details of this particular case since he has been overseas for the past couple of days, he said: “We regret that these two young archers could not go to China. This has happened before and it has been resolved; sometimes through diplomatic means and sometimes through the passage of time.”
As to whether the recent tensions along the Line of Control with Pakistan had reduced the possibility of resuming bilateral dialogue — rekindled after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York last month — Mr. Khurshid said that no timeline had been agreed upon for resuming the “resumed composite dialogue’ but the routine things that were going on would continue.
However, the political-level engagement, according to him, was unlikely as both sides were aware that India was going into election mode. He pointed out that India, too, had not engaged with Islamabad at the political level when Pakistan was headed for an election earlier this year.
His cabinet colleague Anand Sharma weighed in later to say that while there had been some forward movement on the trade front, the momentum had slowed down in recent months. Pakistan had not delivered on its promises, he said; reiterating that if Islamabad took one step forward India would complement it with two. Further, he flagged the fact that lot of the trade with Pakistan was not reflected in the trade data as it was routed via a third country.
About the pending Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh — stalled owing to absence of political consensus within — Mr. Khurshid said an effort was on to bring everyone on board so that it could be presented to Dhaka as a collective national enterprise.