The first wide-ranging dialogue between India and Pakistan after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks will take place here on February 25.
This followed a phone call to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao from her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on Friday stating that February 25, one of the two dates suggested by India, was acceptable to Pakistan.
While New Delhi is open to discussing all subjects, including Kashmir and water, its focus will be on terror and the steps being taken by Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used for attacks against India.
New Delhi is still not in favour of restarting the composite dialogue process which had been Islamabad’s desire during contacts between the two sides since the Mumbai attacks.
Sources said that during meetings last year at Sharm-al-Sheikh in Egypt and in New York, the Pakistani side had pitched for beginning the fifth round of composite dialogue but India had maintained that Islamabad still had to demonstrate its resolve in convicting the masterminds of the Mumbai terror attacks.
“Nothing is static. The dynamics have changed,” said External Affairs Ministry officials while explaining the need for the talks. They said India had made its “point” to the Pakistani leadership and the international community by breaking off official-level dialogue after Islamabad had dragged its feet during the initial period after the attacks in acting against the perpetrators.
Since then, India has noted that Pakistan had taken a “few steps” such as arresting seven persons and slapping criminal cases on them, accepting the lone surviving gunman Kasab’s testimony in its court and attempting to get to the root of the conspiracy.
The dialogue process, hopes India, will touch upon the issue of dismantling the infrastructure of terror in Pakistan which still exists. Both sides also hope to narrow differences on their involvement in Afghanistan and India hopes to remove Pakistan’s misgivings on Balochistan if the issue comes up on February 25.