Amit Baruah

Indian officials see change in Islamabad's approach

  • Some progress made on Sir Creek
  • Islamabad for "joint control" of J&K

    NEW DELHI: There have been "indications" that Pakistan would be willing to authenticate the ground positions on the Siachen glacier.

    Briefing presspersons, senior officials said they see some change in Pakistan's approach on the issue that has divided the two countries since the1980s.

    The officials, speaking ahead of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Pakistan, pointed out that this was his first visit to Pakistan in his long political career.

    Counter-terrorism

    Cooperation in counter-terrorism cooperation remained high on the Indian agenda, the officials said and hoped that Islamabad would respond positively to the information provided in the November Foreign Secretary-level talks.

    While pointing to the infrastructure of terrorism in the documents given to Pakistan, India not only hoped to hear about the action taken, but also wanted to know the specifics of the initiatives, the officials pointed out.

    They stressed that Mr. Mukherjee's visit was expected to set the tone and tenor for the fourth round of composite dialogue, set to begin in March.

    India wanted more from the previous three rounds, unlike Pakistan, which had its focus on Kashmir. It did not measure progress on the basis of what was achieved on one single issue.

    The officials felt the confidence-building measures were integral of a solution to Kashmir. According to them, a common set of ideas on the issue was being discussed.

    While pointing out that India was prepared to consider anything short of secession in an effort to soften the Line of Control (LoC), the officials conceded that there was a wide difference in the perception on "self-governance."

    New Delhi was willing to discuss cross-LoC issues relating to ecology, health and tourism, but Islamabad was talking in terms of "joint control" of Jammu and Kashmir.

    On Sir Creek, the officials said there was some progress. A joint survey would begin on January 15 and end by February 15 and the results were expected by March-end.

    On Pakistan's response to an Indian draft on expanding the September 1974 visa agreement, the officials felt that the response fell short of what was being done on the ground.

    The Indian side, however, would discuss the matter with the other side.