India and Pakistan will resume talks in less than a month and New Delhi has not pre-conditioned them to the progress in the 26/11 case, Sartaj Aziz, an adviser to the Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has told HT.
India had conveyed its verbal confirmation on resuming talks by early September, Aziz told Hindustan Times over the phone from Islamabad.
"India is being responsive and there is no pre-condition that has been put forth on connecting the dialogue process with progress in the Mumbai attack trial," the Pakistan PM’s adviser on security and foreign affairs said.
India has been reluctant to term the talks as a composite dialogue post-26/11, but sources indicated that all issues, including Kashmir, would be discussed.
In the first concrete move to push the peace process after Sharif took office in June, Islamabad has sent a schedule for the resumption of secretary-level talks. The ministry of external affairs was in the process of finalising the dates for the water secretary’s visit to Islamabad and also for the home and defence secretaries meetings in New Delhi, officials confirmed.
Talks between the two neighbours were stalled after Pakistani troops killed two Indian soldiers in a cross-border raid along the Line of Control in Kashmir on January 8, taking away with them the head of one of the jawans.
India till now has linked the dialogue process to Pakistan speeding up the trial in the 26/11 terror attack in which 166 people were killed by 10 Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai. Top operatives of Lashkar-e-Taiba, including its military chief Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, were arrested after the attack.
The case is moving painfully slow. The Pakistan government is yet to name the replacement for prosecutor Zulfikar Ali, who was shot dead in May.
While “progress in the 26/11 trial was not a pre-condition” to restarting the dialogue process, a speedy trial remained a priority and was discussed even when Pakistan’s special envoy visited Delhi in the first week of July for back channel talks, MEA sources said. “For talks to be fruitful, progress is necessary," an Indian government official said.
The dialogue process would help build the right atmosphere for a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sharif in New York in end-September, said Aziz. The two leaders would meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly between September 28 and 30, an MEA official