In the November 13-14, Foreign Secretary level talks, India will strive to strike ‘common ground’ with Pakistan on the nitty-gritty of the joint mechanism, the two countries agreed upon to combat terrorism, at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s talks with President Pervez Musharraf at Havana.
For its part, New Delhi would want the mechanism to be "small and efficient" with a group of 2-3 officials doing the talking on the basis of inputs furnished by various intelligence and investigating agencies.
“We will go through the process of setting up the mechanism, hold a quick meeting and see how it works,” remarked a senior official. He said the evidence in the Mumbai blasts case that delayed the FS-level talks, earlier slated for July 20-21, will be shared with the Pakistani interlocutors but not in the manner that it has to be furnished in the Indian court.
On the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Summit in Havana, Singh and Musharraf had condemned "all acts of terrorism" while tasking the proposed mechanism with identification and implementation of counter-terror initiatives and investigations.
In this backdrop, cooperation is expected from Islamabad against organisations promoting cross border violence, their source of funding and the nexus between narcotic trade and terrorism.
But while approaching the dialogue, New Delhi isn’t oblivious of the Musharraf dispensation’s shrinking elbowroom in the face of the problems back home - notably the ferment that seems to be getting out of control in the North West Frontier Province and tribal areas along Afghanistan.
"It remains to be seen how much they are willing to think out of the box," the official said. As the Foreign Secretaries will take stock of the entire range of issues covered by the third round of the composite dialogue, it would not be surprising if Shiv Shankar Menon’s Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Mohammed Khan, tends to play to the gallery back home by keeping the focus on Jammu and Kashmir.
The Havana statement had also mandated the foreign secretaries to arrange consultations for early solution of the Siachen issue besides the experts-level meeting "to agree on coordinates" for a joint survey of Sir Creek and the adjoining areas.
Differences over India’s insistence that troop disengagement must follow authentication of the existing ground level status, have persisted in the talks between defence secretaries despite Pakistani assurances at the highest level that it was not a big issue.
The PM took up the matter with Musharraf at Havana. But it remains to be seen whether the message has gone home, and would find expression in the FS level dialogue, at which dates might be finalised for the defence secretaries’ discussions on Siachen.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri will be on a private visit to India within a fortnight of the Foreign Secretaries talks. No interaction, formal or informal, has been arranged so far between him and Pranab Mukherjee.
But the official said he would be “surprised” if Kasuri returned without meeting India’s new external affairs minister.