New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will
discuss all issues including the need for Pakistan to take
action against perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai attacks during
talks with his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Maldives
on Thursday as the two countries seek to build better ties on
certain positive developments in recent days.
Singh will meet Gilani on the margins of the SAARC Summit
in Addu in Maldives tomorrow morning, their third meeting in
the last 18 months.
Asked about the issues that will come up during the
meeting between them and whether the issue of action against
26/11 accused would come up, official sources said, "All
issues and whole range of issues will come up."
However, the sources said that there have been positive
developments in the recent past between the two sides with
Pakistan deciding to give MFN status to India and releasing an
Indian helicopter which had strayed into Pakistan occupied
The sources said trade relations between the two sides
were at a good level now and if MFN status is implemented, it
would take bilateral trade to six billion USD per year.
At present, bilateral trade stood around at 2.7 billion
dollars and regarding trade through third parties there was no
The sources said that Pakistan may have decided on MFN to
India "because it was an idea whose time has come and could
not be stopped".
However, the sources pointed out that while relations
between the two sides were positive at the moment, at the end
of the meeting it cannot be said that there would be agreement
on such and such issue.
The sources also said that from a period in 1990 when
there was virtually no trade between India and Pakistan, it
has now reached different levels.
From about 30 visas in 2003, the number of visas now
being issued has gone upto 6000 a month. These included those
given to people visiting relatives across LoC, those coming
for medical treatment and those coming for business.
The sources said while there were some occasional voices
of opposition to the decision to give MFN to India, there was
no groundswell of protests against the decision.
A report of the experts committee of the Pakistan
Planning Commission has estimated that bilateral trade could
go up to USD 10 billion dollars a year.
Asked about Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani
Khar`s statement that Pakistan Army was onboard the MFN
decision, the sources said the foreign office has already
reacted to that.
They said time has come for India to look objectively at
Pakistan`s economy while making attempts to step up bilateral