Sense of hurt over 26/11 persists; a little balm from their side is needed, say sources

The much-anticipated visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan hangs in the balance because of the very “narrow window” that is now available, highly placed sources have said. While there are no preconditions from the Indian side, the sense of hurt over the Mumbai attacks is not yet over and a “little balm” from the Pakistan side is necessary, they say.

“Preconditions are never appropriate. The sense of hurt is not yet over. One should not appear that we have forgotten. Are we bitter? The answer is no. Have we forgotten? The answer is again no. But a little balm is necessary. That’s all we expect from Pakistan. In other words, a small deliverable,” said the sources who were not sure if the visit would materialise.

“I wouldn’t want to venture a guess whether it is possible or not. It is there on the radar. There are a lot of issues. So it is very difficult to say yes or no. A lot will depend on timing… there is need for deep reflection… so I won’t venture a guess,” said one of them.

“We are receiving some interesting positive signals, but at the same time there are expectations that remain unfulfilled. Also, Pakistan will be holding elections next year and after that we would be moving towards elections. So, there is a narrow window,” they elaborated.

Asked by media persons about expectations from a prime ministerial visit to Pakistan, the source said it was “difficult to take the question further. I don’t want to give the impression that we are not keen or ready for a trip.”

On a slightly more liberal visa regime with Pakistan, the sources maintained there was no delay. “Both have to take steps that follow. It requires a lot of planning and reflection. As far as we are concerned, we are ready. It will be implemented over the next few weeks or months. There are no hiccups or problems. Actually, the speed at which both sides are working is commendable.”

At the same time, the sources felt the government must work towards ensuring a greater understanding of foreign policy among the domestic audience. The sources, however, cautioned that in the preoccupation with domestic concerns, India could miss the opportunity of making a mark on the world.

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