Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, meeting in New Delhi to end a diplomatic freeze which followed the November 2008 attack on Mumbai, did what they were expected to do — laid out all the issues which divide the two countries and agreed to “keep in touch”.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, India’s top diplomat, focused on what India calls “cross-border terrorism”. India also handed three new dossiers of evidence to the Pakistani delegation, including one on Hafez Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, who New Delhi accuses of masterminding the Mumbai attack. Pakistan had said it did not have enough evidence to prosecute Saeed.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said both countries were victims of terrorism but that dialogue should not be held hostage to a single person or single incident. In a news conference after the talks he stressed the need to reach a settlement on Kashmir, to resolve territorial disputes over the Siachen and Sir Creek regions and to improve cooperation over the sharing of Himalayan river waters.
He also raised India’s role in Afghanistan, saying it was using its presence there to provide money and funding to militants to destabilise Pakistan. India denies this.
“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”.