India has ruled out “meaningful dialogue” with Pakistan till it fulfilled its commitment of completely dismantling the terrorist infrastructure from its soil. Maintaining that India’s goal was a stable Pakistan at peace with itself and the rest of the world, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told the 112 heads of Indian missions abroad on Monday that India wanted to address its differences with Pakistan through dialogue.
The tone for spelling out New Delhi’s foreign policy objectives with respect to Pakistan was set by a four-page cable sent a week back to Indian envoys abroad by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao. Apart from spelling out the areas with potential and those of concern in resetting ties with Pakistan in the post-Mumbai attacks scenario, Ms. Rao also dwelt on the contentious issue of Balochistan being mentioned in the Indo-Pak joint statement issued at Sharm-el-Sheikh last month. Reliable sources said Ms. Rao justified the mention of Balochistan on grounds that India had clean hands and therefore was ready for a discussion on the unrest in Pakistan’s largest State.
Mr. Krishna repeatedly referred to the message conveyed to the Pakistani leadership of the desire to engage in meaningful discussions and develop bilateral relations in a positive manner. But he also pointed out that a meaningful dialogue will only be possible if Pakistan honoured its pledge to root out all anti-India terrorist activity. Pakistan did take some steps “under the pressure of evidence presented to them,” but it was yet to take effective steps to end infiltration and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure .
The highlight on the opening day of the five-day annual interaction of over 100 Indian envoys with senior policy makers here was the address by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan on Indo-U.S. ties and the spate of questions that followed. In fact, according to diplomats, more questions were put on the tenor of India’s relations with the U.S. than on its future course of action on ties with Pakistan.
Speaking about the immediate neighbourhood, Mr. Krishna termed Bangladesh’s return to multiparty democracy as an “encouraging development” and wished the peace process in Nepal would end quickly on the basis of the “widest possible consensus.”
India also wanted Sri Lanka to ensure an effective devolution of power to bring about a lasting political settlement now that the LTTE was militarily defeated.
There was space for both China and India to grow and while there was congruence in views on many global issues, there were outstanding bilateral issues that needed a peaceful solution through dialogue. India’s ties with Russia were given a contemporary characterisation in areas such as nuclear energy, space and defence and it was decided to build upon the “positive momentum” in ties with the U.S. achieved over the last few years.
Earlier, welcoming the envoys, Ms. Rao dwelt on aspects such as training, greater use of technology, inter-agency cooperation and security and effective communications. In the interactive session, diplomats suggested improved communication and exchanges between the missions and the Foreign Office.