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Pranab's Pak visit: no breakthrough expected

It is highly doubtful if pacts will be signed on nuclear risk reduction and relaxing visa regimes as no preparatory talks have taken place.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 11:08 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee goes to Pakistan for the first time on Saturday in a trip that will give him an opportunity to review the political dialogue between the two sides.

This will be the first high-level contact after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf met on September 15 in Havana on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement summit.

"This will not be negotiating visit and one to expect big outcomes. It will give us a chance to go through issues that worry India and see how much forward movement is there on our concerns," said highly placed official in South Block, which houses the foreign ministry.

Mukherjee will hold talks with his counterpart Mahmood Kasuri to discuss the progress made so far in the composite dialogue launched in January 2004, besides planning for the forth round of talks.

He will call on Musharraf to formally invite him to the 14th SAARC summit to be held in New Delhi in April.

It is highly doubtful if agreements will be signed on nuclear risk reduction, relaxing visa regimes and speedy repatriation of inadvertent border-crossers as no preparatory talks have taken place ahead of Mukherjee's two-day visit.

The draft on "reducing risk of nuclear accidents or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons," reached by the two foreign secretaries, is yet to be approved by the Indian cabinet.

Pakistan has just responded to an Indian draft on liberalisation of visa regimes.

Foremost of India's concerns will be Pakistan's response to dismantling of the terror infrastructure after the formal setting up a joint anti-terror mechanism during the resumed foreign secretary-level talks in November last year.

"We hope to have their response to what they have done and what actions we can expect on the ground," said a foreign ministry source.

India furnished some evidence establishing the involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agencies in terror incidents leading up to the Mumbai train bombings in July last year that killed nearly 200 people but could not provide clinching evidence linking the Pakistani intelligence with the carnage.

Asked if there would be any forward movement to Musharraf's four-point proposal consisting of a joint supervisory mechanism, self-governance, demilitarisation and making the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir between the two countries irrelevant, South Block officials said they viewed the matter differently.

"There is a common set of ideas on the table but we have differences on how we look at them," said one official.

"Redeployment of troops will happen only if terror ends. While Pakistan sees it as an initial step, our idea of self-governance is based on elections.

Even on joint management of LoC, our basic approach is different," said one diplomat.

On a likely resolution of the Siachen issue, foreign ministry officials said Pakistan had said it would be possible to authenticate actual ground level positions but was waiting for confirmation and moving on the issue cautiously.

As for chalking out a maritime boundary of the disputed Sir Creek - the narrow strip of marshland separating Sindh in Pakistan and Gujarat in India - the joint survey would be complete by end-March.

"We would be able to draw a maritime line inwards on the basis of equidistance," said a ministry source.

First Published: Jan 11, 2007 16:15 IST