Indo-Pak secretaries begin talks today


Top Pakistani and Indian diplomats will begin their two-day talks here today (Thursday) to push forward the sluggish peace process and discuss ways to settle the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir that has strained ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours for decades.
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will arrive here today to hold two rounds of talks on June 23 and June 24 with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir to discuss the Kashmir issue, peace and security and promotion of friendly exchanges between Pakistan and India.The top diplomats are holding formal talks within the ambit of the Indo-Pak dia
logue after three years, as India suspended the peace process in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks in November 2008. Nonetheless, there are no expectations of any breakthrough among the diplomatic circles in Islamabad owing to India’s fixation with the Mumbai attacks.
India wants to take up the issue of the Mumbai attacks along with a demand for stern action by Pakistan against some suspects of the attacks currently in Islamabad’s custody, whereas Pakistani authorities believe that the issue could not be taken up for discussions in the foreign secretaries meeting, which had a specified agenda.
Expectations were also low on the other side of the border, with the Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna saying expectations from the talks should not be pitched too high. “Let us not speculate and let not the expectations be pitched too high because this is one of the relationships which we are trying to cultivate in the last few months,” said Krishna.
“We have realistic expectations,” another Indian government source told Reuters. “We should not expect quick and dramatic resolutions,” he added.
An official here in the foreign office said that the two foreign secretaries would discuss peace and security related issues on June 23, while on they would focus on the Kashmir issue on June 24. He said it was true that no breakthrough was expected during the talks commencing from Thursday, but it was a positive development.
“The foreign secretaries’ talks on June 23 and 24 are expected to review the results of the meetings between the home/interior, commerce and defence secretaries of the two countries held since the two foreign secretaries met in Thimphu on the sidelines of a SAARC meeting,” he said. He said the two top diplomats were also expected to finalise the dates for the meeting of two foreign ministers to be held in New Delhi next month.