Seeking “result-oriented and sustained” talks with India, Pakistan has said it will accept no format of engagement other than the composite dialogue, which has been stalled since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Pakistan will not be interested in “talks for the sake of talks,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told the Dawn newspaper.
“We want result-oriented and sustained dialogue and no format of engagement other than composite dialogue will be acceptable to us,” he said.
Mr. Basit was responding to statements made by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and other indications that India may take some steps to normalise bilateral ties, which have been under considerable strain since the Mumbai attacks.
However, the spokesman said the Pakistan Foreign Office will assess any Indian proposal and see if it can help revive the composite dialogue, four rounds of which since 2004 had led to practical steps by both countries to enhance cooperation on several issues and address outstanding matters.
Reports that India wanted “measured contacts” instead of the full-fledged resumption of the composite dialogue were not well received by the Foreign Office, sources told PTI.
India has linked the resumption of the peace process to Pakistan taking action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
Mr. Krishna said on Wednesday that Home Minister P. Chidambaram will attend a conference of SAARC Interior Ministers in Pakistan during February 26-27.
Mr. Chidambaram will have a chance to have “very useful exchanges” with his counterparts and other leaders in Pakistan during the visit, Mr. Krishna said.
The Dawn reported that the Pakistan Foreign Office appeared “to be unclear about what sort of engagement India desired.”
Mr. Chidambaram’s upcoming visit to Islamabad to attend the SAARC meeting is expected to be the “first step towards normalisation of ties,” it said.
The delegation expected to be led by Mr. Chidambaram will be the highest official Indian team to visit Pakistan since the Mumbai attacks.
Since then, leaders of the two sides have only met on the sidelines of several multilateral fora like the U.N. General Assembly.