Thimphu: India and Pakistan’s leaders were due to meet on Wednesday at a regional summit in Bhutan, but a spy scandal dented already slim hopes that they might find a way back to substantive peace talks.
Officials in New Delhi said that an Indian diplomat working at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad had been arrested on suspicion of passing secrets to Pakistani intelligence services.
The spying scandal that erupted on Tuesday involves a 53-year-old junior diplomat working in the information service of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
The woman, Madhuri Gupta, a second secretary in the embassy, was arrested for breaching the official secrets act, which carries a minimum 10-year jail term, a senior police official said. The source said she had been under surveillance for six months.
The incident is likely to further sour the atmosphere between the two nations ahead of a possible one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The two prime ministers will attend the opening on Wednesday of the 16th summit of the eight-nation Saarc.
“We need to go beyond a handshake,” Qureshi said, referring to Singh and Gilani’s cursory exchange of pleasantries at a 47-nation summit on nuclear security in Washington earlier this month.
India broke off all dialogue with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed at least 166 people and were blamed by New Delhi on Pakistan-based militants.
Contact was tentatively resumed at a meeting of top foreign ministry officials in Delhi in February, but India insisted the resumpely. “Let’s wait until the prime minister comes,” he told reporters.
During the foreign ministers’ gathering, Krishna called for all Saarc nations to “rally against the forces of terrorism”.
“The South Asian region is particularly afflicted by this menace,” he said, without mentioning Pakistan by name.
Saarc groups Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and was formed in 1985 to boost development and raise the living standards of poverty-stricken people in a region home to a fifth of humanity.