India, Pakistan aim to nudge peace process forward

ISLAMABAD Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:50pm IST

An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldier opens a gate at the border with Pakistan in Suchetgarh, southwest of Jammu, January 12, 2010. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta/Files

An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldier opens a gate at the border with Pakistan in Suchetgarh, southwest of Jammu, January 12, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mukesh Gupta/Files

Related Topics

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Top diplomats from India and Pakistan meet on Thursday to nudge forward their peace process, an important safety valve which the United States hopes will help stabilise the region as it prepares to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

But after many false starts, hopes were being kept deliberately low for the two days of talks between Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir in Islamabad.

"We have realistic expectations," an Indian government source said. "We should not expect quick and dramatic resolutions."

For more Pakistan stories click link.reuters.com/kac58m

Pakistan blog: blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/

With the India-Pakistan rivalry often spilling into Afghanistan, the United States and its allies are hoping the peace process will gather pace in tandem with plans to gradually withdraw western troops ahead of a 2014 deadline.

President Barack Obama is due to announce the first of a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops later on Wednesday.

During the talks, the foreign secretaries will discuss Kashmir, the disputed territory which has bitterly divided India and Pakistan since independence in 1947.

Pakistan and India, which which have fought three full-scale wars since independence, two over Kashmir, resumed a formal peace process in February, broken off after the November 2008 attack on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants which killed 166 people.

Progress has been incremental in talks which have included meetings between defence, interior and trade secretaries and a visit by Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to India to watch an India-Pakistan cricket match with his counterpart Manmohan Singh.

A CALL FOR PATIENCE

"Patience is something that is called for. We will have to be realistic, we will have to be positive in our approach," Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters in New Delhi this week.

He said the talks would hopefully "narrow the trust deficit and pave the way for normalisation" of relations.

Any sudden crisis between the two - for example if another Mumbai-style attack triggered a military confrontation - could further destabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Given the importance of India's growing economy, it would also send shock waves around fragile markets worldwide.

In the Kashmir Valley, at the heart of a separatist revolt against Indian rule since 1989, and more recently scene of massive street protests which erupted in the past three summers, few held much hope of progress.

"There is huge cynicism in Kashmir about the talks. People here have been witness to them for so many decades and never have they produced anything tangible," said local political analyst Riyaz Ahmad.

"These talks in the past have all ended in bitter disappointment," said Mohammad Saqlain, a 47-year-old school teacher.

"I don't see any hope. Kashmir may bleed more."

(Additional reporting by Matt Willilams and CJ Kuncheria in New Delhi and Sheikh Mushtaq in Srinagar; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Sanjeev Miglani)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Obama's India Visit

Reuters Showcase

Obama's Message

Obama's Message

In parting shot, Obama prods India on religious freedom.  Full Article 

Armyman Killed

Armyman Killed

Indian army colonel killed in Kashmir fighting.  Full Article 

Uber in Delhi

Uber in Delhi

Uber scraps commissions for its New Delhi taxis.  Full Article 

Company Earnings

Company Earnings

Maruti promises clarity on cash plans.  Full Article 

Japan Hostages

Japan Hostages

Japan vows to work with Jordan to secure hostage release.  Full Article 

RK Laxman Dead

RK Laxman Dead

'Common Man' cartoonist RK Laxman dead at 93  Full Article 

India’s Male Tenor

India’s Male Tenor

India’s lone male tenor wants to ‘Indianise’ opera  Full Article 

Facebook Outage

Facebook Outage

Hacker group claims it is behind outages at Facebook, other sites  Full Article 

U.S. Blizzard

U.S. Blizzard

`Life-threatening' blizzard shuts down much of U.S. Northeast  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage