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PM to visit Pak this summer

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh will make his first official visit to Pakistan this summer -- in June or July. While the details of the tour are yet to be worked out, Singh - who had earlier said that he would not like to go to Islamabad for the "sake of a visit" - seems to be pushing for a substantial engagement with Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 01:12 IST
Jay Raina

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh will make his first official visit to Pakistan this summer -- in June or July. While the details of the tour are yet to be worked out, Singh - who had earlier said that he would not like to go to Islamabad for the "sake of a visit" - seems to be pushing for a substantial engagement with Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf.

The atmosphere is a little different from that in April 2005 when the two leaders met in Delhi. The CBMs that were proposed then -- including bus services and rail links between the two countries -- are on a roll. Back-channel discussions are progressing and broad agreements have been reached on the vexed issues of Siachen and Sir Creek. The PM would like to seize the momentum and push the process forward.

Singh's recent announcements have been directed towards this. He proposed a peace, friendship and security treaty to Pakistan. Though the Kashmir roundtable meeting was a damper with separatists boycotting it, the PM had said he was willing to discuss all aspects of the Kashmir question, including "self-rule and autonomy". On his visit to India last year, Musharraf had invited Singh to Pakistan. A recent PMO review of Indo-Pak relations after Musharraf's trip actually constitutes the basis of Singh's proposed visit.

Sources say terror strikes will not derail the composite dialogue process. "This is in line with the joint declaration by the two leaders in April 18, 2005, when they pledged not to allow terrorism to impede the peace process," said sources.