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Pakistan upbeat on composite dialogue with India

By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS,

Islamabad : Pakistan is hopeful India will launch the fifth round of their composite dialogue as scheduled July 21-22, a senior official said Monday.

“We have received some negative signals from New Delhi but hope that the fifth round will start as planned,” the official told IANS. He said that this would be an important round as both sides would be kick-staring the maximum confidence building measures (CBMs) during this round.

However, there are fears in Pakistani diplomatic circles that the fifth round may be delayed because of last week’s terror attack on the Indian mission in Kabul and the subsequent finger pointing against Islamabad for sponsoring the attack.

Indian National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan had said Saturday that New Delhi has a “fair amount” of intelligence inputs about Pakistan’s involvement in the Kabul attack that killed 54 people and wounded hundreds more. Two Indian diplomats and two Indian security personnel were among those killed.

“The ISI needs to be destroyed. We made this point, whenever we have had a chance, to interlocutors across the world… There might have been some tactical restraint for some time, obviously that restraint is no longer present,” Narayanan said.

However, Pakistani Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar was quick to reject what he termed “baseless allegations.

“It was unfair for India to blame Pakistan without any solid evidence,” Mukhtar told reporters while commenting on Narayanan’s remarks.

He rather said that the blast was a bid to destabilize relations between the two countries and that it “was not sagacious to level allegations without any proof, especially when efforts are being made to improve ties”.

Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shah Mahmood Qureshi is scheduled to travel to New Delhi July 20 to start the fifth round of the composite dialogue. However, according to officials, Islamabad has received “signals” from Delhi that this may be delayed.

“We share the grief of the Indians over the loss of life in the blast and we consider it important that both the countries need to do more to fight terrorism,” said the official who spoke to IANS, adding that Islamabad expects that the secretary-level talks will be held as scheduled.

Both countries have already rescheduled joint secretary-level talks on Kashmir CBMs that would now take place July 18. These were scheduled for July 10 but were postponed after the Kabul attack.

The talks in Islamabad would discuss the launch of a Muzaffarabad-Srinagar truck service across the Line of Control (LoC).

The talks would also discuss other ideas and proposals to enhance people-to-people contacts and trade across LoC, including the opening of more routes for cross-LoC bus services.