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from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan: finding the right forum for dialogue

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agra"Peace," said Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw "is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous."  Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao begins that arduous process on Thursday when she meets her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir to try to break a diplomatic freeze that followed the November 2008 attack on Mumbai.

 Rao, speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said she hoped to "build, in a graduated manner, better communication and a serious and responsive dialogue to address issues of concern between our two countries".

In her speech, she insisted Pakistan must act to dismantle Pakistani-based militant groups blamed for attacks in India and Indian Kashmir. "The greatest threat to peace and stability in our region emanates from the shelter terrorists find in the border of Afghanistan-Pakistan and in Pakistan itself," she said. "Terror groups ... continue to recruit, train and plot attacks from safe havens across our borders."

In answer to a question about whether Kashmir would figure in her discussions, as sought by Pakistan, she acknowledged this was a subject that must be discussed bilaterally. India's concerns about terrorism would find "essential focus", she said  -- with emphasis on the word essential -- but that "obviously we would like to keep the door to dialogue open".

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan: looking beyond the rhetoric

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With so much noise around these days in the relationship between India and Pakistan it is hard to make out a clear trend.  Politicians and national media in both countries have reverted to trading accusations, whether it be about their nuclear arsenals, Pakistani action against Islamist militants blamed for last year's Mumbai attacks or alleged violations of a ceasefire on the Line of Control dividing Kashmir. Scan the headlines on a Google news search on India and Pakistan and you get the impression of a relationship fraught beyond repair.

Does that mean that attempts to find a way back into peace talks broken off after the Mumbai attacks are going nowhere? Not necessarily. In the past the background noise of angry rhetoric has usually obscured real progress behind the scenes, and this time around may be no exception.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

When India and Pakistan shake hands

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As encounters go between the leaders of India and Pakistan, the meeting in Russia between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari -- their first since last November's Mumbai attacks -- was a somewhat stolid affair.

It had none of the unscripted drama of the handshake famously offered by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee when they met at a South Asian summit in Kathmandu in January 2002, while the two countries mobilised for war following an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001. Musharraf's gesture made little difference in a military stand-off which continued for another six months.

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