NEW DELHI: The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan Tuesday finalised a slew of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) ahead of talks between the External Affairs Minister, Mr S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart, Ms Hina Rabbani Khar who said the two countries have a stake in each other’s future.
Foreign Secretary, Ms Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart, Mr Salman Bashir had “very cordial and positive discussions” and reviewed the progress between different ministries and organisations of the two countries in the preceding months, an official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said. The two officials will brief their respective ministers of their discussions ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, he said.
Thirty-four-year old Ms Khar, the youngest and the first women Foreign Minister of Pakistan, on her arrival here said, “..Hope that these two countries have learnt lessons from history but are not burdened by history and we can move forward as good, friendly neighbours who have stake in each other’s future and both the countries understand their responsibilities to the region and within the region.”
Ms Rao and Mr Bashir have finalised a slew of CBMs designed to expand cross-LoC travel and trade in Jammu and Kashmir apart from holding discussions on terror including progress in Pakistan in the probe into 2008 Mumbai attack and ISI’s links with Kashmiri separatists.
India is also understood to have handed over to the Pakistani delegation the revised list of ‘most wanted’ fugitives which contains 48 names. Besides reviewing the progress made by India and Pakistan on various bilateral issues during the series of meetings, including security, commerce, water and Siachen, Mr Krishna and Ms Khar will also explore areas to expand the cooperation. The ministers will also explore the possibility to upgrade the engagement in some areas such as commerce and security to the ministerial level, sources said.
The cross-LoC CBMs likely to be announced include increasing the frequency of bus links between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, easing of permit regulations and increase in the number of trading days across the LoC. Ms Khar told reporters in Lahore before leaving for India that Pakistan is looking forward to a “pro-active, productive and result-oriented” engagement with India on all issues, including Kashmir on which “we should not be held hostage to history.” She, however, said both countries have committed to an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” peace process since they began their re-engagement earlier this year.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Bashir said, “I think we have every reason to be satisfied with our joint endeavours for the cause of peace and stability and for the good relations between our two countries.” “We had a very good meeting in Islamabad last month and this in a sense has set the trend for the discussions today,” said Ms Rao. Mr Bashir said he looked forward to a “productive meeting between the two ministers.”