India and Pakistan are set to review nuclear-related confidence-building measures at the Foreign Secretary-level talks, scheduled for June 23 and 24 in Islamabad.
Though both sides do not expect major results and disagree on Kashmir and terrorism, sources in the government repose faith in a sustained dialogue process to narrow the trust deficit and build an understanding to resolve issues of discord.
India wants expectations from the talks “realistic,” given the history and complexity of the ties. “Dialogue is a process. We should not expect a decision. We should go step by step,” the sources said.
On the recent face-off between warships of the two countries clouding the talks, the sources cautioned against whipping up frenzy, though they claimed that Pakistani warships had displayed aggressive behaviour in the past too.
“There is so much to discuss. Let us put it behind us,” they said, suggesting that the incident act as a catalyst for both sides to revive a proposal — made before the Mumbai attacks and then shelved — on enhancing the confidence-building measures at sea.
On the core issue at the talks, India insists that Mumbai 2008 is “not behind us,” while Pakistan feels that it is time the political resolution of the Kashmir issue came up for discussion.
“We will cover all issues of interest, especially that of terror,” the sources maintained, refuting Pakistani suggestions that the Mumbai attacks not be aired at the talks because it was discussed by the Home Secretaries.
The talks between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir would touch on peace and security, confidence-building measures, Jammu and Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges and culture.
More important from the South Block’s point of view, they would review all Secretary-level talks held since their first meeting in February.
“We will not only focus on the agenda for the talks, we will also be looking at the dialogue process, including the discussions at the Home Secretary-level,” the sources said. “Our concerns on terrorism have not been diminished by the resumption of the dialogue. This concern is central when we look at the situation on the ground — heavy infiltration had taken place, continued sanctuaries and safe havens…”
An indication that Mumbai is firmly on India’s agenda came from the “last set” of documents on the attacks, which was submitted to Pakistan two days ago. Hindu