Post-Sharif victory, Indo-Pak bilateral dialogue soon

Post-Sharif victory, Indo-Pak bilateral dialogue soon

Post-Sharif victory, Indo-Pak bilateral dialogue soon

Indian and Pakistani officials are likely to restart the bilateral dialogue process in the next few months. The development comes in the wake of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif expressing willingness to work towards consolidating ties between the neighbours after his party swept the general elections.

New Delhi and Islamabad are soon expected to start finalising dates for the bilateral talks between top officials, a process that was put on hold after the Pakistani Army violated ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and killed two Indian soldiers on January 6.

Home and interior, defence, water resources and foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan are expected to meet over the next few months to continue the third round of the bilateral dialogue which began in March 2011 following a two-and-a-half-year hiatus after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

Talking to Japanese journalists ahead of his visit to Tokyo on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he had “consistently advocated peaceful, friendly and cooperative relations with Pakistan.” “We have sought to pursue dialogue for the resolution of all issues, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence. I look forward to working with the new government in Pakistan to take forward our relations,” he said.

Sources said New Delhi recognises the need to give a political impetus to its dialogue with Islamabad. The Congress top brass is understood to be ready to review its stand against the prime minister’s visit to Pakistan if Sharif makes some moves to address India’s core concerns.

During a recent informal interaction with some civil society leaders, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had said that New Delhi should respond to the positive vibes sent out by Sharif. He contended that the party should not stop the prime minister from visiting Pakistan.

Some senior government officials said it would be difficult for the prime minister to visit Pakistan without any significant initiative by Islamabad to expedite the trial of seven 26/11 plotters at Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court. New Delhi had earlier stated that “a proper atmosphere” must be created for a “well-prepared” visit by the prime minister to Pakistan, so that it could yield “substantive outcome.”