After the initial guarded approach, both the neighbours seem to have gone back to an old narrative where each finds the other wanting. India expects Pakistan to act against the handlers of Pathankot airbase attack in time so that the two foreign secretaries meet in Islamabad next month.
For India, attack on the forward airbase at Pathankot by Pakistan-based militants could not have come at a worse time. It coincided with the efforts led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get the talks process back on track.
While the government has gone public with a posturing that progress on 26/11 Mumbai attack case is a “test” for Pakistan’s commitments on cracking down on anti-India terror groups, what would get the talks going will be some “demonstrable action” by Pakistan on Jaish-e-Mohammed, the militant group blamed for Pathankot attack.
Though the posturing doesn’t look unfamiliar to what the neighbours did after the Mumbai attack of 2008 that killed 166 people, sources said there have been concerted efforts to be wiser from the past experience.
Unlike in the past, Pakistan soon enough accepted groups in its territory hatching the Pathankot attack, which India termed as “right initial steps”. But New Delhi finds them short of meeting the requirement for creating the right atmosphere for talks.
However, the government has adopted a policy of not linking any specific action against LeT as a pre-condition for talks in public, sources said it has been conveyed to Pakistan that it expects the neighbour to “act” on the leads in a reasonable time frame. It is also necessary for the government ahead of the crucial budget session of parliament to fend off opposition attack.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar will accompany external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for the joint commission meeting in Sri Lanka on February 5 and 6.
The foreign secretaries are to meet in Islamabad to announce the timeline for their bilateral talks.