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PM took Pak army chief on board before Mohali

The all-powerful Pakistan army was on board when PM Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani met for a diplomatic breakthrough in Mohali on March 30. HT reports. Gen Kayani and his India connect | Indo-Pak ties: Recent events

world Updated: Apr 24, 2011 01:03 IST
HT Correspondents

The all-powerful Pakistan army was on board when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani met for a diplomatic breakthrough in Mohali on March 30.

A British media report said Singh had initiated a back-channel exercise for talks between an "unofficial" Indian envoy and Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani 10 months ago. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/240411/24_04_11-metro-1.jpg

The cricket diplomacy on the sidelines of the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final in Mohali coincided with the resumption of the dialogue process between the two neighbours after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

The Times reported, "'The Prime Minister of India has opened secret talks with the head of Pakistan's military to build on the cricket-inspired diplomatic thaw between the rivals.

"Manmohan Singh appointed an unofficial envoy to make contact with Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan's chief of the army staff who exercises de facto control over foreign policy, about 10 months ago."

The newspaper said the back-channel talks had encouraged London and Washington to believe that the India-Pakistan's rivalry over influence in Afghanistan could be better managed during the peace process.

But the main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has cautioned Singh against holding talks with Pakistan in the wake of a top US army commander's statement that the Inter-Services Intelligence was working in "close coordination" with terror groups.

The Times wrote, "Gen Kayani visited Kabul this week to meet members of the High Peace Council, a body set up by President (Hamid) Karzai, to build contacts with Taleban groups. Gen Kayani was accompanied by Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency.