Even in diplomacy, a storm is followed by falling temperatures. After two days of acrimony, India and Pakistan strongly signalled their interest in resuming dialogue. The two foreign ministers are expected to begin picking up the pieces on the sidelines of the Kabul conference that starts July 19.
In Islamabad on Saturday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said “Pakistan wants the continuation of dialogue…We want talks, they too want talks.”
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, whose post-meeting diatribe against Foreign Minister SM Krishna caused an uproar in India, chipped in, saying Pakistan was “very serious” about normalising bilateral ties so that the two sides could make a “new beginning of normal relations.”
Indian officials said New Delhi remained committed to the process of dialogue. “India’s commitment to the peace process is as firm as ever, and the dialogue is the only way forward.”
Krishna and Qureshi will both attend the Afghanistan international conference from July 19 to 21. “We are working out the details of a pull-aside,” said an Indian source.
The problems that bedevilled the Islamabad meeting remain.
India will continue to urge the two countries “move in an incremental, step-by-step fashion, and hope Pakistan understands that timelines can’t work in dealing with complex issues.” Pakistan advocated such timelines during the Islamabad talks.
New Delhi will also push for a 26/11 concession. “We hope Islamabad will do something earnest and urgent to contain the terror machine.”
Said the source, “The issues Pakistan wants to deal with in a time-bound manner — Kashmir, Siachen, and Peace and Security — made considerable progress between 2004 and 2007. We are willing to discuss them. But we need to work around to bridge the post-Mumbai trust deficit.”
Gilani, while praising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an “honourable man,” said, “Singh has assured me all issues will be discussed.”