Kashmir, N-CBMs likely to be approved

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Pakistan and India are most likely to announce agreements on some important nuclear and Kashmir-specific confidence-building measures (CBMs), such as the inclusion of cruise missile tests in the ‘advance notification on missile tests pact’ and opening of more points for cross-border movement of people and goods on the Line of Control in Kashmir as the foreign ministers of the two countries meet by the end of this month in New Delhi.
In the last month’s talks between Salman Bashir and Nirupama Rao, Pakistan and India had exchanged several important proposals on conventional and nuclear CBMs. One such proposal was the inclusion of cruise missile launches in the mechanism for advance notification of missile tests. The proposal is aimed at the cruise missile tests’ inclusion in the existing bilateral agreement on ‘Pre-Notification of Flight Testing of Ballistic Missiles’, signed in October 2005. There was also another important proposal floated by Islamabad which asked for the exchange of experience and expertise in the field of nuclear technology, especially the operation of atomic power plants and their safety mechanisms. The proposal was floated in context of recent nuclear accident at the Fukushima atomic plant in Japan after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, as Pakistan feels that the two sides could work together to address similar safety concerns. Despite their differences and positions on the Kashmir issue, the two sides also exchanged some CBMs on the core dispute such as the launch of the Kargil-Skardu bus link, increasing the frequency of cross-Kashmir bus link between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar and an increase in the number of trading days across the LoC.
“It was in Islamabad’s meeting that the two sides decided to continue their talks on these vital CBMs through diplomatic channels and take them again for a possible approval during the foreign ministers’ meeting that was tentatively scheduled for the last week of July at that time,” said a Pakistani diplomat. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar is likely to travel to the Indian capital on July 26 for talks with Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna but before that she would be elevated to the position of foreign minister. “Before the foreign ministers’ meeting, the two foreign secretaries will also hold their talks on July 25 to fine-tune the proposals and in case of any agreement between the top diplomats, the nuclear and Kashmir specific CBMs would be put on the table for the two foreign ministers for the approval,” the diplomat said.