Pakistan-India talks pave way for further talks
India's Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao (L) shakes hands with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir before their meeting in New Delhi February 25, 2010. The top diplomats of India and Pakistan began on Thursday their first official talks since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but hopes of progress remain limited as the rival neighbours seek to end a diplomatic freeze. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
At a most critical juncture of their relations, Pakistan and India held their first official talks on Thursday in 15 months and agreed to maintain process of peace talks.
Briefing media after talks in New Delhi, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir said the negotiations were meaningful and both the countries have agreed to prolong such dialogues. Nirupama Rao said the Mumbai attacks had broken the mutual trust between the two countries.
Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir (R) speaks to the media as his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao watches during their meeting in New Delhi February 25, 2010. The top diplomats of India and Pakistan began on Thursday their first official talks since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but hopes of progress remain limited as the rival neighbours seek to end a diplomatic freeze. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
Salman Bashir said Pakistan is keen for sound relations with India and the real issue for both nations is to bring stability to the region.
On Feb. 4, India offered to hold talks and Pakistan welcomed it, making Thursday's talks a stepping stone for the two countries to resume composite dialogue process, which was broken off after the deadly attacks on Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed over 170 people and dumped the peace process.
Three wars have been fought between the two nuclear-armed nations since 1947. Pakistan is firmed in its stance over the core and contentious issue of Kashmir and India is wary of Pakistan- based militants involvement in terror attacks in India.
Salman Bashir, who is leading a six-member delegation of Pakistan, told media before the meeting that the agenda for talks is open and he is hopeful for positive results.
Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit on the eve of the meeting said that Pakistan wants to discuss all issues including the core dispute of Kashmir, water, terrorism and bilateral trade.
Pakistan feels no hesitation to resolve terror related issues but the core issue of Kashmir dispute will have to be resolved for complete stability in the region, said the spokesman.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has questioned that how can Pakistan and India have good relations if India avoids the key issue of Kashmir.
Analysts said that Pakistan does not want to limit the talks to terrorism because it is sensitive of Indian criticism of not doing enough to dismantle anti-India Pakistani militant groups.
If India insists to focus on terrorism, the arch rivals could not make any progress, they warned.
Pakistani former foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri told Xinhua that it is important to hold talks and continue talks otherwise there will be no progress to resolve issues that keep both the countries in trouble.
Analyst and former Pakistani foreign secretary Najamuddin Shiekh said that it is a breakthrough to resume dialogue process and at the moment Indian authorities are trying to appease their public opinion.
"Talks should be result-oriented and in the first round of talks both the countries should resolve those issues over which both can easily agree as it will be helpful in confidence-building measure and to create favorable environment to go ahead," Shiekh said.
He said that Kashmir issue should be discussed and the back channel negotiation is a best option for resolving the decades-old issue.
The former foreign secretary said that the distrust prevails among the Indian public for Pakistan because they want Pakistan to nab the perpetrators of Mumbai mayhem and that is why there seems no warmth.
Gohar Ayub, a politician and former speaker and five-time member of Pakistan's National Assembly, said that Pakistan should raise the key issue of Kashmir and water otherwise Pakistani officials will face public rage and the efforts to resume talks will go in vain.