Senior officials from Pakistan and India will meet next week in Islamabad to discuss conventional and nuclear confidence-building measures (CBMs) as part of the peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
The two-day talks, which are scheduled to take place on December 26 and 27, are the latest sign of improved ties between the two countries since the resumption of composite dialogue earlier this year.
At the weekly news briefing, foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit said Munawar Saeed Bhatti, Additional Secretary (UN & EC), ministry of foreign affairs, would head the Pakistan delegation at the expert-level talks. On the Indian side, D. Bala Verma, Director General (Disarmament & International Security Affairs) ministry of external affairs, would lead the Nuclear CBMs Group, while Yashwant K. Sinha, Joint Secretary (PAI), ministry of external affairs (MEA), would head the Conventional CBMs Group, he added.
Despite Pakistan’s troubled relations with the US and neighboring Afghanistan, the relationship with India has continued to show improvement. In November this year at the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in the Maldives, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh pledged to open a ‘new chapter’ in otherwise fragile relations between Islamabad and New Delhi.
NATO supply blockade
Answering a question about resumption of Nato’s supply line and also whether there is a timeframe in this regard, Basit said, “I will not pre-empt the parliament and it is their prerogative how they would like to look at the entire process. It is for them to decide about the timeline. It is not for this ministry to pre-empt here or comment on how they (parliament) conduct their business. “
He added, “Obviously one thing is very clear that this exercise is not to wreck our relations with any particular country. This exercise is to streamline our cooperation on such a sensitive issue. As our prime minister and foreign minister have said all along, the new terms of engagement, as and when our parliament decides, have to be on the basis of mutual respect and mutual trust.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2011.
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