Call it sheer coincidence — July 16 is the date on which India-Pakistan talks take an acrimonious or controversial turn.
This has happened thrice this decade.
In 2001, it was the Agra summit between President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that raised the heat between the two countries.
In 2009, it was the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement between Prime Ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Manmohan Singh.
In 2010, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi launched an acrimonious fusillade against Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, whom he met over marathon talks a day before.
When Musharraf arrived in Delhi in 2001 on the same dates — July 14-16 — as Krishna, the hype and anticipation were running high. It was the first such meeting after two years.
Similarly, Krishna was the first Indian foreign minister to travel to Pakistan after two years, after his predecessor Pranab Mukherjee who visited Islamabad in May 2008.
July 16, 2001, saw the talks go on beyond the scheduled time, and Musharraf cancelled his plans to visit Ajmer, but the talks ended in a deadlock.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had to do the firefighting in 2001, when she was the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry.
Musarraf, like Qureshi, used the media to air his views to score debating points. The general blamed the failure of talks on Indian hardliners.
The July 16, 2009, joint statement between Gilani and Singh created much heat over de-linking action on terrorism from the dialogue. The joint statement said: “Action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process and these should not be bracketed.”
With the Opposition crying sell-out and cave-in, the Centre explained that it meant action on terrorism should continue, whether there is dialogue or not.
Balochistan, too, found its way into an India-Pakistan bilateral document for the first time on July 16, 2009.