India will embark on a series of high-level meetings with Pakistan in Islamabad from Thursday, in an effort to keep the dialogue process going.
While making tangible progress in non-contentious issues and discussing Kashmir, getting some commitments on terrorism will also be on India’s agenda.
Preparations are on to ensure that when Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao meets her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir on Thursday, it does not drift into a pattern similar to the meeting on February 25 in New Delhi — all talks but no dialogue.
Mandated to reduce the post-26/11 trust deficit and lay the ground for the July 15 meeting between foreign ministers S.M. Krishna and Shah Mehmood Qureshi (the first Indian foreign minister’s visit to Islamabad since Pranab Mukherjee’s trip in early 2008), Rao is tasked with maintaining a fine balance on many issues.
South Block sources said there was political will in Pakistan to get the relations back into the track, while exuding hopes that the army, too, was on board.
That said, sources did admit that getting some sort of commitment on the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism was the political prerequisite for the Manmohan Singh government “walking the extra mile”, which the Prime Minister has spoken of time and again.
When Home Minister P. Chidambaram travels to Pakistan on Friday to meet Pakistan counterpart Rahman Malik on the sidelines of a SAARC meet, India will get an opportunity to press for “unraveling the full conspiracy behind Mumbai attack expeditiously”, sources said, stressing that it is a “very important engagement at the political level”.
Sources also said that “from Kashmir to water, we will listen, and respond to all their concerns”.