New Delhi: The confidence building measures
put in place by India and Pakistan are starting to show
results but there is still a long way to go for full
normalisation of ties between the two countries, government
sources said on Wednesday.
The sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his
Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani during their planned
meeting next week on the sidelines of the 17th SAARC summit in
Maldives would have an opportunity to review the progress in
bilateral relations since they last met at the previous
meeting of the grouping in Thimphu, Bhutan.
Giving India`s assessment of the state of Indo-Pak ties,
the sources said that the two countries should be happy that
they were able to move on in improving bilateral ties after
they worked out the confidence building measures (CBM) in
areas like cross-Line of Control trade and visa liberalisation
The Singh-Gilani parleys will take place against the
backdrop of a major crisis being quickly averted recently
after Pakistan released an Indian Air Force Cheetah helicopter
within five hours after it strayed into Pakistan-Occupied
Kashmir (PoK) due to inclement weather.
Diplomatic and military channels in both countries had
swung into action after the helicopter incident.
On other issues regarding to Indo-Pak ties, the sources
said it is also in the interest of Pakistan to extend the Most
Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India for exports from this
Earlier in the day, Pakistan, after dilly-dallying for
several years, granted the MFN status to India in a
significant step in improving bilateral ties and boosting two
-way trade currently standing at USD 2.6 billion.
On the situation in Afghanistan, the sources underscored
the need for a regional solution where there is a limited
At the same time, the sources said everybody is hedging
on the future of the strife-torn country.
The sources ruled out the possibility of Indian troops
being deployed in Afghanistan at any stage -- either now or
after the withdrawal of the US-led NATO forces.
They said India was glad that it was invited by Turkey
for the conference on Afghanistan in Istanbul after it was
kept out of the previous meetings hosted by the country.
The sources said that several countries had raised with
Turkey the issue of India`s exclusion from the conference.
The sources rejected a report by a strategic think-tank -
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) - that China
may do a Kargil with India and suggesting that the country
could engage in limited hostilities.
The sources noted that the Indian Army has ruled out the
possibility and said the larger question should be why should
any country want to engage in trouble and what will be the
At the same time, the sources said, there may be some
countries who would like to see India and China at each
The sources said it was the Army`s assessment that they
can handle such an eventuality if the need arose.
They also noted that the Sino-India border is the most
peaceful border in the world and this should be appreciated in
the context of density of troops on both sides of the border.
The sources, however, acknowledged that the boundary
question no doubt was a serious one which India will deal with
directly since it is not a settled question.
The next round between the Special Representatives of
the two countries are expected to be held towards the end of
Regarding short-listing of two European armament
companies for the purchase of medium multi-range combat
aircraft and US aviation majors being out of the race, the
sources said the sole criteria was that the country`s armed
forces should get the right weapons.