India-Pakistan composite dialogue today

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi for more concrete steps by Islamabad to stop infiltration

NEW DELHI: Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir arrived here for beginning the fifth round of composite dialogue with his Indian counterpart Shiv Shankar Menon on Monday.

New Delhi will urge more concrete measures by Islamabad to stop infiltration besides discussing across the Line of Control (LoC) confidence-building measures, including more truck and bus services. The two sides can also touch upon the possibility of initiating for the first time an electricity sharing arrangement.

Pakistan, at the last joint anti-terror mechanism meeting in Islamabad, has expressed the desire to work jointly to curb terrorism. It also wants concrete measures to step up trade and economic cooperation. Significantly, this meeting takes place ahead of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Colombo early next month.

India has suggested the early operation of truck service on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route and the launch of Kargil-Skardu and Jammu-Sialkot bus services. It is also keen that both countries liberalise the permit system for travel across the LoC. India has also proposed packaged tours and increasing the number of pilgrim places.

At the last interaction here, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan acknowledged the results of the previous four rounds of dialogue on all contentious issues. While acknowledging the ceasefire along the LoC and the Actual Ground Position Line (Siachen), Mr. Mukherjee, however, spoke of some aberrations in the form of firing from the Pakistani side.

On his arrival here, Mr. Bashir said Pakistan wanted a “peaceful atmosphere on both sides.” However, the Foreign Office here suspects the involvement of Pakistani elements in the deadly attack on the embassy in Kabul, which left 58 dead, including a senior diplomat and army officer. A recent meeting here to assess whether the new dispensation in Islamabad can keep rogue elements in check decided to continue with the talks.

Varied subjects

Started in 2004, the composite dialogue covers eight subjects ranging from the territorial and water-related disputes over the Siachen, Sir Creek, Kashmir and the Wullar Barrage to checking terrorism and drug trafficking, promoting economic cooperation and friendly exchanges in several fields.

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