Pakistan on Sunday said it is in the process of framing a response to India’s offer to resume talks but indicated that it would prefer to stick to the established composite dialogue process that was stalled in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“We are still in the process of holding internal consultations (on the Indian offer) and have not really formulated a response... It is important to know what we are getting into and the trajectory of the (proposed) talks,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told PTI.
Referring to the stalled composite dialogue process, Mr. Basit said: “We already have an established framework and it would not be desirable to reinvent the wheel.”
The spokesman made it clear that Pakistan was “not against engagement with India” but said “talks for the sake of talks would have no meaning.”
All parleys would have to be “constructive and meaningful,” he said.
Mr. Basit said Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had suggested to Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi Shahid Malik during a meeting on Friday that the two sides should hold their “first round of talks and take it from there.”
India has proposed a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries to break the stalemate that has existed since the Mumbai attacks, which were carried out by members of the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba terror group.
Official sources have said that Ms. Rao, during a telephonic contact with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir earlier this month, made it clear that the proposed talks would focus on terrorism and other issues “hurting” bilateral ties and gave no indication about the full-fledged resumption of the composite dialogue.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has convened an inter-ministerial meeting in the Foreign Office next week to assess the Indian proposal and to finalise a strategy and agenda for the Foreign Secretary-level talks.
Mr. Malik has been summoned to Islamabad for consultations and to attend the inter-ministerial meeting.
The meeting is expected to be attended by representatives of the defence and interior ministries and senior officials of intelligence agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence.
The Dawn newspaper quoted an unnamed senior official as saying that the purpose of the meeting is to “develop a comprehensive strategy and take all stakeholders on board.”
Pakistan has been insisting on the revival of the composite dialogue as it feels the four rounds of talks held as part of that process had led to substantial progress in bilateral relations.