Pak-India talks yield no immediate promise

Nov 13, 2013| Courtesy by :

ISLAMABAD – As expected there was no immediate promising outcome of the diplomatic-level talks between Pakistan and India on the margins of the Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers dialogue in New Delhi Tuesday.

According to sources, proposals on strengthening and expanding the existing border supervision mechanism to ensure peace on LoC as well as reviving and upgrading the joint anti-terrorism institutional mechanism were discussed. However, nothing was finalised and both sides agreed to follow up through diplomatic channels for certain decisions, these sources told The Nation.
No joint statement was issued after Pakistan’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz’s meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, a sign that no tangible progress was made or any specific decision taken on key bilateral matters.
The bland one paragraph statement issued by the Foreign Office here after the meeting also conveyed that not much ground had been covered or any breakthrough made.
“The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. Both sides reviewed bilateral relations in a constructive and forward looking manner,” is how the meeting was summed up by the Foreign Office here. This all-too-familiar hackneyed diplomatic jargon in the context of Pakistan-India dialogue essentially means that both sides went through the motion of more talks and photo-op with no results.
Evidently the reported cordiality did not translate into any headway on resumption of dialogue process that Pakistan has consistently advocated.
There was discussion on all the key irritants that have plagued relations including violations on the Line of Control, terrorism and trial on the Mumbai attacks, sources said. However, no decision could be taken on resuming the stalled composite dialogue, seen as an integral part of Pakistan-India peace process.
While reports in the media suggested that director-generals of military operations (DGMOs) “would meet soon” there was no mention of it in the official press release that apparently emanated from Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. In the New York meeting both sides had agreed that the DGMOs should meet to ensure peace on the LoC.
Delhi has linked resumption of the composite dialogue process to “peace and tranquillity” on the LoC and Pakistan bringing perpetrators of the 2009 Mumbai attacks to book to ensure justice for the victims.
Aziz and Khurshid last met in New York on September 29 during the Nawaz Sharif-Manmohan Singh summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September. This was their third bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a multilateral event.
Sartaj Aziz also met Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon later in the evening.
Sartaj Aziz’s expected call on the Indian Prime Minister did not take place till the filing of this report. The request for it was made well ahead of his visit to India. The indication from the Indian side throughout was that it was under consideration.
Mr Aziz is scheduled to return to Pakistan on Wednesday (today).
Agencies add: Disapproving of Pakistan Sartaj Aziz’s meeting with Kashmiri leaders, India Tuesday said for meaningful dialogue for sustainable peace it is necessary that its “sentiments and sensitivities” are respected and termed the recent ceasefire violations by Pakistani army along LoC ‘counterproductive’.
Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said there have been events in the recent times that are not seen by the government or by anybody in India as encouraging events, in an apparent reference to ceasefire violations along the LoC in which many Indian soldiers have been killed.
“I think they are counter-productive and I could not imagine if there is a seriousness in desire to reach some kind of situation in which a dialogue meaningfully to take place, whatever be the end result of that dialogue.
“For a meaningful dialogue to take place (between India and Pakistan), conducive circumstances have to be created and it have to be done by both sides, it cannot be only on one side. Some of these events have been somewhat counterproductive, unfortunately,” Khurshid told reporters.
Asked about Aziz’s meeting with Hurriyat and other Kashmiri leaders immediately after arriving for the 11th ASEM Foreign Ministers meeting, Khurshid on Tuesday said, “I must say it is important that what we say and what we do, we have to carefully watch.”
“It’s not that I want to give any gratuitous advice to our very senior colleagues across the border, but if there is seriousness in wanting to communicate and have a meaningful dialogue with India for sustainable peace, it will be necessary to respect India’s point of view, India’s sentiments and sensitivities of our country.  “Because this is not a dialogue that happens in isolation, this is a dialogue that is contextual and this is a dialogue that needs public support.
“And we think that we have done a great deal to help Pakistan government to get the public support that it needs to be able to have a fair and transparent dialogue with India.”
Sparking off a controversy, Aziz had met leaders of various Kashmiri groups of Hurriyat Conference on Sunday immediately after his arrival for ASEM ministerial meeting. Besides holding talks with the moderate faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, he also had meetings with JKLF chief Yaseen Malik and hardline Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Dukhtaran-e-Millat founder Aasiya Andrabi.
It was seen by the Indian government as ‘extremely unfortunate’ misuse of a multilateral forum for partisan ends.
The meetings also drew sharp reaction from BJP which said government has committed a ‘diplomatic blunder, by allowing this.
Besides having a meeting with Salman Khurshid, Sartaj Aziz also met India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.
Aziz held a half hour meeting with Khurshid, the last of the 20 bilaterals the Indian minister held on the sidelines of the multi-lateral meeting.
According to the Pakistan high commission, the meeting with Khurshid was “held in a cordial atmosphere. Both sides reviewed bilateral relations in a constructive and forward looking manner”.
After meeting Khurshid, Aziz met National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon.
The Pakistani leader has also sought a meeting with the Prime Minister and it is understood that there was a ‘window of possibility’ for such a meeting.