India and Pakistan put dialogue back on track

India and Pakistan agreed on Thursday to the resumption of high-level dialogue, which has been disrupted since the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008.

Meeting on the sidelines of the SAARC summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yusuf Raza Gilani, decided to ask their Foreign Ministers and Foreign Secretaries to first discuss the modalities of restoring trust and confidence in bilateral ties. That would pave the way for talks on “all issues of mutual concern,'' Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told newspersons here.

In an hour-long interaction without aides, the two Prime Ministers “focussed on the renewal of dialogue and to understand the factors that have resulted in the current state of affairs in the relationship. The meeting was an exercise in honesty in taking the process forward,'' added Ms. Rao.

Ms. Rao said the two sides agreed to meet as soon as possible but it would be “unrealistic to tell the time frame here and now.'' Asked whether the proposed resumption of talks meant resuming the Composite Dialogue process, she said: “We don't have to be stuck with nomenclatures. This does the relationship no good. Dialogue is the only way forward to open channels of communications and restore trust and confidence.''

“The meeting was an exercise in mutual comprehension as lack of trust has impeded normalisation of relations. They agreed to assess the current state of affairs and then to start afresh on the way forward…The focus is on charting a course forward so that the searchlight is on the future and not on the past,'' said Ms. Rao.

India's concern on terrorism came up for detailed discussion with the Prime Minister conveying to Mr. Gilani that public opinion in India was exercised about the “terror machine'' that operates from Pakistan and this was the only aspect holding back normalisation of relations.

Dr. Singh touched on all aspects of concern to India such as the Pakistan-based terrorist infrastructure, increase in infiltration and the slow progress in prosecuting the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

Dr. Singh also spoke of India's “deep and continuing concern'' about the failure to prosecute Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed. Pakistan said there were some difficulties in the judicial system to deal with Hafiz Saeed. Mr. Gilani assured Dr. Singh that Pakistan was serious about prosecuting the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks and maintained that all efforts were being made to bring the trial to a speedy conclusion.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 1:36:33 AM |

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