Stalled peace talks: Pakistan, India break the ice

Published: January 8, 2011
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File photo of an earlier meeting between SM Krishna and Shah Mehmood Qureshi. PHOTO: EPA

File photo of an earlier meeting between SM Krishna and Shah Mehmood Qureshi. PHOTO: EPA

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India have agreed to a meeting between their top bureaucrats next week in Bhutan in a move to restart a stalled dialogue process.

New Delhi had called a ‘time-out’ in the slow-moving talks with Islamabad, known as composite dialogue, after gunmen mounted attacks on Mumbai’s landmarks in November 2008. And subsequent attempts to put the process back on track have ended in naught.

“Pakistan has accepted India’s offer for talks between foreign secretaries of the two countries on the fringes of a meeting of foreign ministers from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc),” a Foreign Office official told The Express Tribune.

“The foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet in Thimphu in February,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

This will be the first meeting between the top bureaucrats of Pakistan and India since September last year when they had failed to break a deadlock in their talks in New York on the margins of a UN General Assembly session.

The two countries have had high-level contacts since the Mumbai attacks but New Delhi’s insistence on discussing only terrorism-related issues hampered the progress,  according to the Pakistani official.

He said that in the Bhutan meeting, the two foreign secretaries would try to iron out differences on issues that have so far prevented the two nations from resuming the  stalled talks.

Islamabad wants a clear roadmap for the composite dialogue while New Delhi links it with progress on the prosecution of suspects of the Mumbai attacks, which India blamed on the Pakistan-based militant outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The latest development comes as Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna renewed the invitation to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit New Delhi.

Qureshi was originally scheduled to visit India in December last year but the trip did not materialise because of a disagreement on the agenda of the talks.

“The visit of Foreign Minister Qureshi will depend on the outcome of the talks between the foreign secretaries in Bhutan,” said the Foreign Office official.

“If the talks are successful and India agrees to discuss all issues including Kashmir, the foreign minister will certainly visit India,” he added.

Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit said Pakistan wants meaningful and result-oriented dialogue with India. “Foreign Minister Qureshi has already stated that he will not visit India just for photo-ops,” he added.

The two foreign ministers last met in July 2010 in Islamabad but failed to put the derailed peace process back on track.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Jan 8, 2011 - 9:30AM

    In the context of India-Pakistan relations — more they talk, the less they’ll bite. And the more they talk, the closer they can get to understanding each other’s perceptions and moving closer to taking steps that the other side would welcome. This is not to endorse ‘talking just for the sake of talking’ but to underline the point that, given the lengthy periods in which there has been no dialogue, any contact is better than none.Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Jan 8, 2011 - 11:11AM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Nothing shall change.India is insincere and dishonest in peace talks with Pakistan on Kashmir issue and lot of time and money have been wasted on photo sessions on the name of peace talks on Kashmir issue.Indian leaders have shown their hypocrisy in the statements about the resolution of Kashmir issue and also have been fooled and deceived many times on the various world’s platforms to Pakistani leaders and world.How much more time shall be wasted on the fake peace talks from Indian leaders and it has been proven that Kashmir issue can never be resolved thru peace talks.How long our leaders shall be fooled and deceived by the Indian leaders on Kashmir issue?How much more time and money shall be wasted on the fake peace talks on Kashmir issue?Recommend

  • Jan 8, 2011 - 11:51AM

    Time to move towards a sustained, consistent and open-minded communication. The bottom line is that there is no alternative to dialogue. And that while the governments sort out their political differences, they should at least not let the people suffer – ease visa restrictions, let people meet, allow trade (yes, even transit trade), remove non-tariff barriers. In short, behave like civilised neighbours in the 21st century. India and Pakistan cannot be adversaries forever.Let us make peace and fight poverty together – for us and our children and our coming generations.Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Jan 8, 2011 - 11:54AM

    @ Ahmer Ali

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah. What is your point ?Recommend

  • salman sharif
    Jan 8, 2011 - 12:05PM

    Kashmir should be the first priority…..otherwise Pakistan should refuse the offer… Recommend

  • salman
    Jan 8, 2011 - 1:11PM

    No point of these talks.

    India will not talk until Pakistan stops terrorism. Pakistan will not stop terrorism.

    Pakistan will not talk until India discusses Kashmir. India will not discuss Kashmir.

    Futile exercise and frankly speaking not needed at all.

    India must be dreaming if she expects Pakistan to stop terrorism.

    Pakistan must be dreaming if she expects India to give an inch of kashmir.

    There should not be any more talks.

    Talks should happen where there is something to gain.

    Pakistan doesnt gain anything, as India will not move out of her constitution which says Kashmir is an integral part of India.

    India doesnt gain anything, as Pakistan cannot dismantle the terror infrastructure because neither does it have the will nor the means to dismantle the terror infrastructure.Recommend

  • kamaal
    Jan 8, 2011 - 1:44PM

    @Salman Sharif,this talk is a drama by two govt and nothg more.No politician can do away with Kashmir in either country.Evenif they want public will not let it happen…nothg can be gained out of it.Recommend

  • kamaal
    Jan 8, 2011 - 1:48PM

    @Ahmer Ali..How can you blame India.Talk does not mean one party accepts others order.Pakistan can’nt order India to do that or do this.Kashmir is an integral part of India like Baloochistan is for Pakistan.There can’nt be any compromise on this.We as an Indian will not let our govt to do that(evenif then want).Rest of the thing we can talk but nothing on kashmir.We will die for it and we will kill for it.Recommend

  • salman
    Jan 8, 2011 - 2:33PM

    Fake Comments. The comments might very well be part of the story. No wonder Pakistan can never be a democracy!Recommend

  • ram
    Jan 8, 2011 - 4:18PM

    Like many Indians, I don’t believe that the talks will achieve anything great. However one can always agree to disagree and maintain diplomacy. I hope Qureshi does not raise his voice and behave like a comedian as he did during last time around. Krishna maintained diplomacy that does not signify any weakness.Recommend

  • sandy
    Jan 8, 2011 - 5:21PM

    Both parties know each other’s political compulsions at home They will just have tea then nothing will hapenRecommend

  • G.Din
    Jan 8, 2011 - 6:34PM

    @ram
    “I hope Qureshi does not raise his voice and behave like a comedian as he did during last time around. ”
    You could have added:I hope, too, he does not behave like Mush who pranced around Agra trying to show how he was smarter by half than the rest of the crowd. He gave an ultimatum: agree on Kashmir or we walk. There was silence. Then he got up, turned around and started walking and kept on walking…walking…walking… until he reached Islamabad. No one tried to stop him. In the process, he forgot that he was to pay a visit to Ajmer Dargah!Recommend

  • inderjit sahota
    Jan 9, 2011 - 2:59AM

    It is a pointless exercise,still jaw jaw is far better than war. Only way peace can be delivered is wait for military to take over in pak and change of govt in india.Mr singh is an economist and not a politician ,he has no political constituency of his own,he is dependent on patronage of others.Likewise pak govt is a prisoner of politics.

    Therefore both govts are trapped into useless talksRecommend

  • J.Oberoi
    Jan 9, 2011 - 10:45AM

    There’s absolutely no point in talking. Nothing ever comes out of it but a few headlines for the next day’s newspaper. The reason is simple. There is no solution to this issue. The sooner both countries realize this, the better. There is no way India will compromise on Kashmir – none at all. Terrorism only adds to the resolve.Recommend

  • Ashutosh
    Jan 9, 2011 - 2:16PM

    n the current situation, India can do without any dialogue but things are becoming increasing difficult for Pakistan.

    It will be a better idea to assess the situation in a rational way and then take a decision keeping in interest of common Pakistan and common Pakistani in prospective …

    Please remember, that these terrorists are bigger enemy of Pakistan today than they are of India.

    The world in fast forgetting Kashmir and embracing India and Indian. They also look at Pakistan with suspicion and on guard at the very sight of a Pakistani.Recommend

  • Jan 10, 2011 - 6:35AM

    A story on Voice of America (www.voanews.com , January 9, 2011) says: “Indian Foreign Minister Warns of Outside Interference in Afghanistan: … The remarks are seen as a warning to Pakistan. … .” So the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not “outside interference” but Pakistan’s interest in Afghanistan is “outside interference”. As I said months ago, “India’s njgger-slave, traitor service chiefs who are constantly talking of threats from India’s ‘neighbors’ must be shot on the spot. The United States is EVERYBODY’S neighbor. It has already invaded and occupied Afghanistan, a part of traditional India and will expand its occupation to the rest of the subcontinent.
    Was Britain India’s neighbor? I am India’s expert in strategic defence and the father of India’s strategic program, including the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan means the coast-to-coast destruction of the U.S. by India; see my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.’ which can be found by a Yahoo search with the title for steps I have already taken for the nuclear destruction of New Delhi and then the coast-to-coast destruction of the U.S. and extermination of its population.
    Russia and other white countries are U.S. allies. These are the enemies to destroy. All other enemies will be taken care of automatically.
    Conventional arms are worthless for destroying the United Sates. Nuclear arms to destroy the United States with a FIRST STRIKE — this is the key — are cheap and easy to produce with technology India already has. Prepositioning by its special forces a couple of nuclear bombs in Washington and New York and letting the world know we have done so will give India freedom to test thermonuclear weapons designs, ICBMs, etc., as much as it wants, though India already has this freedom but for the njgger-slaves. Alternatively, twenty kiloton bombs can be prepositioned in the largest U.S. cities and then Washington and New York destroyed with the warning that additional U.S. cities will be destroyed if there is any retaliation. The nuclear destruction of New Delhi — without waiting — is all that is needed to make India win.”
    Satish ChandraRecommend

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