New Delhi: Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna is expected to visit Pakistan on 7-9 September to assess the progress made in the recent official-level talks between the two countries, two people close to developments said Friday.
Krishna’s meeting with Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar is expected to pave the way for a third round of discussions between officials of both sides on issues ranging from the dispute over Kashmir to pushing forward trade and economic relations and closer people-to-people interaction.
Foreign minister S M Krishna.
Krishna was to visit Pakistan this month but Indian presidential elections on 19 July necessitated his presence in the country and the postponement of his Islamabad trip. The September visit will be at the end of the month-long monsoon session of Parliament.
According to the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, both countries have made progress in the two rounds of talks launched last February. Dialogue between the two neighbours was ruptured by the 2008 November Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed when 10 militants targeted multiple locations in India’s commercial capital.
India blames the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for planning and executing the attack on India’s financial capital and has been demanding that the Pakistan government bring the masterminds to book. India suspects that some sections of the Pakistan’s establishment helped in the planning and logistics of the attack.
“Terrorism remains an issue between India and Pakistan,” said one of the two people cited above, an indication that India was unlikely to ease pressure on Pakistan on this subject. Krishna last month said it was too early to assess whether the trust deficit with Pakistan—a fallout of the Mumbai attacks—had been bridged. He also advocated caution and an abundance of patience while dealing with Pakistan, which India accuses of fomenting an insurgency in Kashmir and organizing terror attacks in other parts of the country.
But both sides also seem keen to build on the gains made in the economic arena that have been the main driver of the current phase of the peace dialogue. Pakistan has said it was looking at normalizing trade with India by expanding the list of items that can be imported from India by more than threefold. Both the countries also opened a new check-post through which goods can be traded at the Wagah-Attari border crossing.
In another sign that both sides are keen to ease tensions, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) this week announced that India will resume bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan. The development comes after a gap of five years. The cricket boards of the two countries are expected to finalise dates for three one-day international matches and two Twenty20 games to be played in India in December-January.