Pak seeks full resumption of composite dialogue with India

Pakistan has insisted on the full-fledged resumption of the composite dialogue in proposals submitted to India through diplomatic channels ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries.

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2011, 15:23 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan has insisted on the
full-fledged resumption of the composite dialogue in proposals
submitted to India through diplomatic channels ahead of the
upcoming meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two
countries.

The two countries have exchanged several proposals in the
run-up to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries on the
sidelines of a SAARC meet to be held in Bhutan on February
6-7.

The most recent exchange of proposals by diplomats was in
Islamabad yesterday, a senior official of the Pakistani
government said.

Pakistan has called for the "restoration of the full
spectrum of relations" and resumption of talks on all issues
included in the stalled composite dialogue, the official said.

He added that Islamabad is also trying to convince New
Delhi to work for a "positive outcome" in the meeting of
Foreign Ministers to be held after the parleys between the
Foreign Secretaries.

The Foreign Ministers are expected to meet in the first
quarter of the year, possibly in March, in New Delhi.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna recently renewed
his invitation to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood
Qureshi to visit India for talks.

Though Krishna first extended the invitation when he
visited Islamabad in July last year, Qureshi`s visit has been
delayed because the two sides have not been able to find
common ground on the agenda for talks between the Foreign
Ministers, sources in Pakistan`s Foreign Office said.

Qureshi has been insisting he will travel to India only
if the two sides agree to hold "meaningful and
result-oriented" talks.

The senior Pakistan government official acknowledged that
contacts through diplomatic channels had continued away from
the media glare even after the meeting of the Foreign
Ministers in Islamabad in July 2010 ended inconclusively.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir met Indian High
Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal several times as part of these
contacts.

The official contended that the two sides had agreed on
an "outcome document" that was to be unveiled after a meeting
of the Foreign Ministers on the margins of the UN General
Assembly session in September last year.

However, this could not be done after Foreign Minister
Qureshi`s speech at the UN session.

In that speech, Qureshi called for the exercise of the
right to self-determination by the Kashmiri people through a
plebiscite and condemned the killing of Kashmiris in a fresh
wave of violence. India suspended the composite dialogue in late 2008 in
the wake of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai that were blamed
on the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba and its front, the
Jamaat-ud-Dawah.

Since then, New Delhi has linked the full-fledged
resumption of talks to Islamabad prosecuting those linked to
the Mumbai attacks and winding up terrorist infrastructure on
Pakistani soil.

Diplomatic sources said India favoured a phased
resumption of the peace process in order to ensure that
Pakistan is genuinely interested about addressing Indian
concerns.

At the same time, India has made it amply clear that it
is open to discussing all issues, including the Kashmir
problem, they said.

Pakistan has also conveyed to the US its perceived
concerns about India`s presence in Afghanistan as Washington
prepares to withdraw its troops from the war-torn country, the
senior government official said.

In the past few days, Pakistan`s Foreign Office has
referred to a "new great game" involving foreign powers
jockeying for influence in Afghanistan after the eventual US
troop pullout.

Analysts believe the move is part of efforts by Pakistan
to ensure that the US does not entrust a key role to India in
shaping the developments in Afghanistan.

PTI