India, Pak to restart talks as foreign secys meet next week
New Delhi wants to move cautiously, "unlocking" the stalled peace process, focusing on the deliverables while finding ways to work around the difficult issues when the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan meet in Thimpu early next week.
Officials said they are not expecting any "dramatic outcome" as the two neighbours get back to the talking tables to lay groundwork for the visit of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to India, probably in March-April.
Maintaining that even Islamabad share this approach, trade issues, consular matters, a possible meeting between the two commerce secretaries, the meeting of the judicial committee on prisoners, counter terrorism and Sir Creek are among the issues were a positive outcome can be targeted.
The meeting between foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir will take place in Thimpu. Hoping that the meeting will provide "little more clarity" on how to resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries, officials said both foreign secretaries will be on "exploratory sort of mission" to plan for the months ahead.
There has been "some communication" in past few weeks as Rao and Bashir have spoken a couple of times on phone, they said.
Officials while taking note of the former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's remarks that Pakistan army was totally on board for the track-II peace initiatives maintained the ties between two countries are now at a different stage.
"It was an interesting speech of what happened in past few years between us. We are at a different stage of the relationship. We have seen the reactions that came out in last February, last June and July and of course before that there was Mumbai and the complication due to that...," the officials said.
It was not as if New Delhi has set aside what has happened in the past but it does not know "how ready Pakistani officials or establishments are to acknowledge all that was discussed during President Pervez Musharraf's time," they said.
They were also quick to point out Kayani's recent remarks that the Pakistani army was "India-centric" and said the army was part of the government and "we have no reason to doubt that there will be inputs from defence and army" on Indo-Pak relations. Officials said that the Delhi is discussing ways to address the Iran oil payment crisis.