Krishna's July visit to Pakistan postponed

In the backdrop of political upheavals in Pakistan, lack of substantive progress in the recent rounds of talks and the arrest of a key 26/11 plotter, New Delhi has postponed External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s visit to Islamabad for a meeting with his counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.

Krishna was expected to travel to Islamabad on July 19 to meet Khar and review the outcomes of the second round of talks that resumed last year, marking the end of post 26/11 diplomatic chill. But the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said the visit would not take place before the third or fourth week of August.

New Delhi, however, made it clear that the foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan would be held as scheduled on July 4 and 5.

The MEA stated that the external affairs minister would not travel to Islamabad on July 19, as he has to cast his vote for the presidential elections on the same day.

“It just happened that while we were working on the date where we had indicated a possibility of that date being suitable to us, other developments have intervened since then because when the date was being mentioned, there was no reference to an election for the President and with a specific date of polling on that date,” said official spokesperson and Joint Secretary (External publicity) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin.

“Since that has become the date on which the polling for the president is involved, and the external affairs minister of India is part of the Electoral College for an important election in India, obviously we seek to reschedule these dates,” he added.

Since the monsoon session of Parliament is set to commence in the third week of July, Krishna’s visit to Islamabad can now take place only towards the end of August.
New Delhi announced postponement of External Affairs Minister’s proposed meeting with his Pakistani counterpart just a day after Krishna, himself, sought to lower expectations over the bilateral talks.

Hours after the Delhi Police made public arrest of 26/11 plotter Abu Jundal on Monday, Krishna told reporters that no significant headway in efforts to resolve the long-pending disputes between India and Pakistan could be expected at a time when the neighbouring country was going through political upheavals.

As Abu Jundal’s interrogation is expected to throw more light on the role of certain elements of Pakistani state agencies in plotting the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, New Delhi turned cautious, apparently in anticipation of the implications of the arrested LeT operative’s disclosures on its engagements with Islamabad.

With the arrested Lashkar-e-Toiba operative purportedly confirming to his interrogators that the terrorist outfit’s founder Hafiz Saeed himself was present in Pakistan-based control room coordinating the carnage in Mumbai, sources said New Delhi might give Islamabad another dossier containing fresh information blabbed out by him.

Sources said information provided by Abu Jundal might help New Delhi to put pressure on Islamabad, not only to expedite the trial of the 26/11 accused in the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi, but also to act against Saeed.

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