As External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee prepares to head for Islamabad, he will find that the civilian government headed by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani wants to maintain the trend of building positive relations with India.
Analysts in Lahore and Islamabad believe that Gilani’s government might well use its own language in pursuing relations with India, but both the PPP and the PML (N) have displayed a positive attitude towards New Delhi.
“Pakistan wants to open up to capital inflows from India,” Daily Times consulting editor Khaled Ahmed told HT on Sunday, echoing the view expressed by noted Pakistani economists Asad Saeed and Akmal Hussain, a day before on Dawn News.
Anybody familiar with India-Pakistan relations cannot but note that these ideas are radical departures from past establishment thinking and represent fresh thinking on what Islamabad and New Delhi can do together. In the past, such
ideas could not have been expressed publicly in Pakistan.
“India will have to trust Pakistan,” Ahmed said two days before Mukherjee reviews the state of the composite dialogue with his new counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon will hold talks with his counterpart, Salman Bashir. “Pakistan’s Army is no longer obsessed with India. It believes that the threat to Pakistan is internal and not from India. The worldview of our establishment has changed,” Ahmed argued. On Gilani describing Pervez Musharraf’s out-of-the-box thinking on Kashmir as “half-baked ideas”, the veteran journalist claimed that the civilian government wanted to go beyond Musharraf’s ideas.
“This is basically a review meeting. Both sides seem determined to push the process of dialogue forward,” a retired Pakistani diplomat, who preferred anonymity, told this writer.
“There has been enough discussion. India and Pakistan need to take some concrete steps to push the peace process along,” he said, pointing out that Sir Creek and Siachen were areas where the two countries need to clinch agreements.
At the same time, there is awareness in Pakistan that India is headed towards elections in the next few months and the UPA government could be reluctant in pushing for a settlement on a critical question such as Siachen.