India's 'Pak Policy of Good Hope'

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New Delhi, June 10 (ANI): With little over a month left for the meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan, New Delhi appears keen on taking its relationship with Islamabad forward, and is realistic about its expectations but not overly ambitious about the talks process.

In the post-26/11 period, New Delhi found that its decision to stop all interaction with Pakistan was not delivering the expected response or results. In the Indian Government's view, Pakistan's reluctance to move on the 26/11 investigations, Hafeez Saeed and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) did not inspire confidence, but not talking, also was not improving matters.

Now, however, in view of the positive and conciliatory statements emanating from Islamabad, there is optimism, hope and confidence about forward movement on resuming dialogue.

The Indian Government feels these statements and improved body language, be it from President Asif Ali Zardari, or Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani or Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, had its beginnings in Sharm-el-Sheikh on the sidelines of the NAM Summit, and went further into Thimpu and now hopefully will be taken forward in Islamabad.

The government sees its relationship with Islamabad as an evolving one, a relationship that can be further developed with the growing groundswell of support. The mood in both South Asian capitals suggests "peace at all costs".

The Indian Government is moving forward on many fronts such as with ASEAN, but Pakistan remains the most emotive one.

The Government says that when the media plays up issues related to India and Pakistan, it has to react.

On how doable was the restoration of the composite dialogue and peace process, especially in the wake of the 26/11-terror strike and the deliberations at Sharm-el-Sheikh and Thimpu, the government reveals that it has noticed a "change in the tone and tenor" of the Pakistan leadership since that summit meeting in July 2009.

The change in approach to Pakistan's engagement with India should be acknowledged pragmatically, the government says.

Pakistan wants to engage with India, and the latter is also seeing the forthcoming meeting of the foreign secretaries of the two countries and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram's visit to Islamabad for the SAARC Home Ministers' Conference at the end of this month, as a "window of opportunity" for both countries to bring their suspended dialogue back on track.

In the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh taking the initiative to engage with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, both at Sharm-el-Sheikh and in Thimpu (on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit), the Indian Government says it is ready to explore and apply every possible strategy to get both countries to talk on all issues.

There is now a belief that the atmosphere is right for the talks to take place; that a genuine effort must be made to reduce the trust deficit.

The Indian Government feels that both countries are in a position to discuss "unresolved and unfinished agenda" in a positive manner.

The government has also acknowledged that back channel/track-II efforts have been useful, and that the dynamics of engagement have changed since Sharm-el-Sheikh and Thimpu. It says there has been no digression, no dichotomy, or differing points of view.

The objective appears to be to build bridges of trust, and, this is not only being appreciated by the South Asian neighborhood, but also by countries, which are friendly to both nations. There is an acknowledgement that a good atmosphere has been created

The Indian Government believes that Pakistan and its leadership will not ridicule the dossiers that it has sent on the 26/11 case, and that there will not be a repeat of the awkward statements such as the one made by Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, when he described the dossiers as "mere literature".

New Delhi also believes that Islamabad will not be making bold statements on Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafeez Mohammad Saeed, and there is an understanding that both sides will tone down rhetoric to explore modalities for resuming the peace process.

The Indian Government assessment is that Pakistan realizes that it has been hit by terror, and that because of this menace having a hold on its soil, its relations with New Delhi and others in neighborhood is being affected.

However, there is an acceptance that equations have also changed.

Commenting on the widely held view that the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi backs the Pakistan Government, the Indian Government says that as far as it is concerned, it is "dealing with a civilian administration, not the army.

It said it is dealing with the government of the day.

The government also said that there is a consensus in the country for pursuing peace with Pakistan, and therefore, informing the opposition about a step-by-step process/procedure would be unrealistic.

It says that there are appropriate forums such as parliament, parliamentary committees and standing committees through which information can be relayed to the opposition.

The overall view is that the only way forward is through peaceful co-existence. There is an acknowledgement that people are enraged with certain developments, but "no one wants to go to war".

On the issue of getting a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the view is that there is a growing groundswell of support for India's right to be considered for inclusion. There is an acceptance that UN institutions require reform, and as one said, 139 countries have come out in support of India.

On India-US ties, the government said that Washington has acknowledged its role in Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts, and that there is a greater clarity about New Delhi's role in Kabul. Bilateral ties too have witnessed an upswing, as can be seen from the first US-India Strategic Dialogue held in Washington earlier this month.

On Nepal, New Delhi said it is keen on stability and peace prevailing in the Himalayan state, and that of late, there has been a drop in anti-India tirade. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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