In a warm-up match to Saturday’s meeting between the Indian and Pakistani home ministers and then the foreign ministers’ meet on July 15, foreign secretaries of the two countries met in Islamabad on Thursday. They agreed to cooperate on counter-terrorism and struck all the right postures to indicate dialogue is the best way forward.
Setting the tone for the meeting between P Chidambaram and Rahman Malik in the Pakistani capital on Saturday, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her counterpart Salman Bashir went about reducing the trust deficit post-26/11.
Unlike when they last met in New Delhi on February 25, they addressed a joint press conference, the first since the Mumbai attacks. “This has been a good essay in mutual comprehension,” Bashir said. “We accepted the modalities for restoring trust and confidence for comprehensive, sustained and meaningful dialogue,” Rao said.
Indian diplomatic sources said “substantial ground on terrorism was covered” and the proposed cooperation on a counter-terrorism mechanism will be different from past models; this will be the key issue in the meeting between Chidambaram and Malik. Delhi, however, still has apprehensions due to the past experience of the “joint anti-terror mechanism that held meetings...”
The sources said “Pakistan struck a positive chord and seemed to be more understanding that the basic premise - dialogue becomes meaningful in an atmosphere free of terror and terror threats - has to hold”.
“We won’t allow terrorists space to act against each other,” said Bashir while Rao stressed: “We must deny terrorists any opportunity to derail the process of improving the relationship.”
(With agency inputs)