India, Pakistan dialogue: New round, old story | india | Hindustan Times
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India, Pakistan dialogue: New round, old story

india Updated: Feb 26, 2010 02:26 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

India and Pakistan fell short of bridging the post-Mumbai divide on Thursday. During the first official talks in 14 months, New Delhi said Islamabad needed to do more about terrorism. Islamabad said it could only do more if the two sides resumed full dialogue.

While they agreed to keep channels of communication and Pakistan extended an invitation for another round, no dates were announced.

<b1>Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the talk was in line with “our graduated and step by step approach with modest aims”. However, she said, Pakistan had not done enough about those behind Mumbai.

“Pakistan looks forward to reversing the tide of regression that has taken place in its relationship with India,” said Pakistan foreign secretary Salman Bashir. Declining to specify any new anti-terrorist measures by his country, he noted “Pakistan is not desperate” about holding a dialogue.

Though Bashir at one point dismissed India’s dossiers on LeT founder Hafiz Saeed “as literature, not evidence”, he later said he had meant this in a legal sense and he was “sorry” for any confusion the expression had caused.

The two held over three hours of talks-including an 80-minute one-on-one discussion between the two foreign secretaries.

India pitched for action against Saeed and full investigation into 26/11 plot. Indian officials said 85 per cent of the discussions’ time was spent on terror.

“We went into today’s talks with an open mind, but fully conscious of the limitations imposed by the large trust deficit,” Rao said.

She said Islamabad needed to follow up on the leads emerging following the arrest in the US of David Coleman Headley and Tahawuur Hussain Rana.

The two sides showed little agreement on even the nature of the discussions. Noting that 5,366 people had died in Pakistan due to terrorism since 2008 and that “many Mumbais” take place in Pakistan, Bashir said “It is unfair, unrealistic and counter-productive to make an issue of terrorism in a generic way and stall the process of overall relations between both the countries.” Indian officials pointed out Pakistan was a victim of terrorism “of its own making.”

Rao said Kashmir was discussed “briefly.” But Bashir said it was “the core issue” of the relationship. “Kashmir was discussed extensively,” he said.

Bashir did not hesitate to attack India’s stance on dialogue later. “Pakistan does not believe in cosmetic engagement, Pakistan does not believe India should lecture us and demand Pakistan should do this or that.”

He talked of Indian interference in Balochistan and India upsetting the region’s military balance. Delhi interpreted that as posturing for the gallery and for the Pakistan army.