It is not known if Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik brought up the matter of fixing a date for a meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries when he met Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Friday.
But on Thursday, Pakistan expressed frustration at the delay in scheduling the meeting, which was agreed upon by the two sides at Sharm-el-Sheikh as a precursor to talks between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next month.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said at a weekly briefing that the matter was being pursued through diplomatic channels but also made the pointed remark that there was no word from New Delhi about finalising the dates.
He seemed to hint at Pakistani concerns that not holding the official-level talks would effectively scupper the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers, which was also agreed upon at Sharm-el-Sheikh last month.
The agreement was that the Foreign Secretaries would meet “as often” as necessary and report to their Foreign Ministers, who would then hold talks on the sidelines of the U.N. annual event in New York.
This was part of the broader pact on the need for the two countries to engage in dialogue. Pakistan has followed with interest the criticism that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to face when he returned home after holding talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at Sharm-el-Sheikh.
Asked why the dates for the Foreign Secretaries’ meeting had not yet been finalised, the spokesman cryptically said, “nor have we heard anything from New Delhi”.
“We hope that the meeting does take place,” he added, as it was “required” before the Foreign Ministers’ meeting.
“As was agreed at Sharm-el-Sheikh, the meeting between the Foreign Secretaries is required in order that they can submit their reports to the Foreign Ministers who will be meeting, or should be meeting in New York as was also agreed at Sharm-el-Sheikh,” he said.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said last week that his government had invited Ms. Nirupama Rao to Islamabad for the talks.
“Our two countries are engaged through diplomatic channels to fix this meeting between the two Foreign Secretaries,” the spokesman said, declining to comment on the specific details.