Pak seeks full resumption of composite dialogue

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Jan 16 (PTI) Pakistan has insisted on thefull-fledged resumption of the composite dialogue in proposalssubmitted to India through diplomatic channels ahead of theupcoming meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the twocountries.

The two countries have exchanged several proposals in therun-up to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries on thesidelines of a SAARC meet to be held in Bhutan on February6-7.

The most recent exchange of proposals by diplomats was inIslamabad yesterday, a senior official of the Pakistanigovernment said.

Pakistan has called for the "restoration of the fullspectrum of relations" and resumption of talks on all issuesincluded in the stalled composite dialogue, the official said.

He added that Islamabad is also trying to convince NewDelhi to work for a "positive outcome" in the meeting ofForeign Ministers to be held after the parleys between theForeign Secretaries.

The Foreign Ministers are expected to meet in the firstquarter of the year, possibly in March, in New Delhi.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna recently renewedhis invitation to his Pakistani counterpart Shah MahmoodQureshi to visit India for talks.

Though Krishna first extended the invitation when hevisited Islamabad in July last year, Qureshi''s visit has beendelayed because the two sides have not been able to findcommon ground on the agenda for talks between the ForeignMinisters, sources in Pakistan''s Foreign Office told PTI.

Qureshi has been insisting he will travel to India onlyif the two sides agree to hold "meaningful andresult-oriented" talks.

The senior Pakistan government official acknowledged thatcontacts through diplomatic channels had continued away fromthe media glare even after the meeting of the ForeignMinisters in Islamabad in July 2010 ended inconclusively.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir met Indian HighCommissioner Sharat Sabharwal several times as part of thesecontacts.

The official contended that the two sides had agreed onan "outcome document" that was to be unveiled after a meetingof the Foreign Ministers on the margins of the UN GeneralAssembly session in September last year.

However, this could not be done after Foreign MinisterQureshi''s speech at the UN session.

In that speech, Qureshi called for the exercise of theright to self-determination by the Kashmiri people through aplebiscite and condemned the killing of Kashmiris in a freshwave of violence. (More) PTI RHL KIM AKJ

India suspended the composite dialogue in late 2008 in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai that were blamedon the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba and its front, theJamaat-ud-Dawah.

Since then, New Delhi has linked the full-fledgedresumption of talks to Islamabad prosecuting those linked tothe Mumbai attacks and winding up terrorist infrastructure onPakistani soil.

Diplomatic sources said India favoured a phasedresumption of the peace process in order to ensure thatPakistan is genuinely interested about addressing Indianconcerns.

At the same time, India has made it amply clear that itis open to discussing all issues, including the Kashmirproblem, they said.

Pakistan has also conveyed to the US its perceivedconcerns about India''s presence in Afghanistan as Washingtonprepares to withdraw its troops from the war-torn country, thesenior government official said.

In the past few days, Pakistan''s Foreign Office hasreferred to a "new great game" involving foreign powersjockeying for influence in Afghanistan after the eventual UStroop pullout.

Analysts believe the move is part of efforts by Pakistanto ensure that the US does not entrust a key role to India inshaping the developments in Afghanistan.

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