ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India are hopeful of making progress in their talks on eight composite points, including the Kashmir issue, as foreign secretaries of both the countries will meet in New Delhi in the first week of July.
The secretaries of the two countries will also work out a framework for foreign ministers meeting later in the month. Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Syed Jalil Abbas Jailani will visit New Delhi in the first week July and hold formal talks with his Indian counterpart Ranjan Mathai. Pakistan’s new high commissioner to India Salman Bashir will reach New Delhi tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon to assume his assignment. He will replace Shahid Malik, who served in India about six years.
Interestingly, Salman Bashir who attained superannuation in early March this year as foreign secretary conducted most part of the negotiations with India and now he would assist his successor in carrying forward the same.
Well-placed diplomatic sources told The News here Monday that the agenda for the foreign secretaries talks had been spelled out by the offices of the two respective countries as confidence building measures (CBMs), friendly exchanges, peace and security were the major subjects and Kashmir issue would also figure in their parlays. Salman Bashir, who is viewed as an architect of the ongoing process of the talks between Pakistan and India, would play a key role in normalising ties between the two countries.
Indians had already welcomed the nomination of Salman Bashir as envoy to New Delhi. It was his tenure when the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh declared his counterpart from Pakistan Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani as ‘man of peace’ publicly last year in Maldives.
The sources are insisting that the round of talks starting with the arrival of Syed Jalil Abbas Jailani in New Delhi and later meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries in Islamabad in the third week of the same month would be of high importance since they would pave the way to the much-awaited visit of Indian prime minister to Pakistan. Dr. Singh has already accepted the invitation for the visit on an early date.
It is believed that Pakistan and India would ink an agreement settling contentious issue of Sir Creek and soft visa regime between the two neighbours. The visit will also help the two sides thrash out other thorny disputes.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar is leaving for Russia today (Tuesday) where she will join Pakistan’s delegation participating in St. Petersburg International Economic forum (SPIEF).
The delegation will be led by President Asif Zardari. She will avail herself of the opportunity to put her head together with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss the regional as well international issues of bilateral interest. Her interaction with Russian leadership will be helpful in her negotiations with Indian Minister for External Affairs SM Krishna. The sources are indicating that Pakistan-India parlays would culminate in a historic event that could prove to be a starting point for the friendly relations between two countries.