Ashok Tuteja, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 11. Even as India and Pakistan work out dates for discussing the Siachen and Sir Creek issues, New Delhi is in no hurry to schedule the much-anticipated visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan before the end of the year.
The sense here is that the current government in Pakistan has about one-and-a-half year of its term left. If there is forward movement in the dialogue process, the visit could materialise without sticking to any time frame.
After his parleys with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, the PM is believed to have got the impression that the civilian administration in Islamabad is taking steps, particularly on the trade front, which could help normalise ties with India.
In fact, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government has made some such moves which have traditionally been difficult to deal with for any administration in Islamabad till Pakistan’s core concerns are addressed.
Therefore, the PM’s view is that there is “certain room to manoeuvre’’ with the current regime in Pakistan and India ought to explore it for giving a push to the dialogue process in the interest of better relations.
At his meeting with the PM, Zardari even wondered why India and Pakistan could not do in bilateral ties what India and China have done by putting contentious issues on the backburner and concentrating on trade and economic relations. His argument was apparently aimed at triggering a debate on it back home in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, India and Pakistan will make a fresh attempt to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Siachen issue when the defence secretaries of the two countries meet as part of the dialogue process.
Simultaneously, officials of the two countries are in touch to finalise dates for the meeting between the surveyor generals for discussing the Sir Creek issue.
It is understood that both the meetings will take place in late May or early June since External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is scheduled to travel to Islamabad in July to review the progress in the dialogue process at the end of the second round of talks.
Both the Siachen and Sir Creek issues had figured during Manmohan-Zardari talks here on Sunday. There is a feeling the two issues are ‘doable’.
On its part, India says it is willing to revisit a formula had been worked out a couple of years back to resolve the two issues.
Both India and Pakistan spend heavily to keep their military presence in Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield. The recent avalanche in which nearly 130 Pakistani army personnel were feared buried in the area has once again made the two countries realise the need to speedily resolve the Siachen issue.
India is also waiting for Islamabad’s response to the dates suggested by India in the third week of May for talks between the Home/Interior secretaries of the two countries in Islamabad to discuss the issue of terrorism.
Islamabad had proposed April 16 for the meeting but India said ‘no’ to it in view of a meeting of the Chief Ministers on internal security being held in New Delhi on that day.
- Both the Siachen and Sir Creek issues figured during Manmohan-Zardari talks on Sunday
- There is a feeling that the two issues are ‘doable’
- India says it is willing to revisit a formula worked out a couple of years ago
- India and Pakistan spend heavily to keep military presence in Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield
- The recent avalanche has made the two countries realise the need to speedily resolve the Siachen issue