Mumbai attacks stall talks between India and Pakistan
The Mumbai terrorist attacks not only provided an opportunity to India to blame Pakistan but have also led to postponement of various meetings between the two countries at different levels, including the one that scheduled for next week on Sir Creek boundary dispute between the two nuclear neighbours.
An important meeting on the long-running Sir Creek boundary dispute between Pakistan and India, scheduled for next week, has been postponed at the request of New Delhi due to what has been termed a ‘logistic’ issue, official sources said here Saturday.
Earlier, it had been officially announced that the meeting would be held on December 2-3 in New Delhi under the fifth round of Pakistan-India composite dialogue.
Official sources here said that the postponement of the meeting was not in any way linked to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai as they confirmed that the planned visit of the Indian Indus Water Commissioner was on course.
According to a source, the postponement of the Sir Creek meeting was sought by the Indian side much before the Mumbai tragedy. “It is basically due to a logistic issue. The Indians have a new surveyor-general who wanted more time and there is nothing more to it,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said, when contacted.
New dates for the meeting have not been proposed yet, the official said, adding that they would be fixed through diplomatic channels in due course. This was to be the first meeting on the Sir Creek issue under the fifth round of the composite dialogue formally launched on July 21 in New Delhi with foreign secretary-level talks.
More importantly a breakthrough was expected at the technical-level meeting of the two surveyors-general regarding their respective positions on the disputed maritime and land boundary lines.
Notably this is the second time that the meeting on Sir Creek has been postponed. Initially it was planned for August 19 but was put off due to the July 7 bombing of Indian embassy in Kabul for which New Delhi blamed Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denied.
With unleashing of the blame-game by the Indian government following the Mumbai terrorist attacks and instant finger-pointing at Pakistan it seems unlikely that Sir Creek talks would be held any time soon. Indications are that the inevitable sullying of atmosphere and domestic political compulsions in India may slow down, if not stall, the ongoing peace process.
The Sir Creek dispute over maritime and land boundaries is one of the eight bilateral issues being discussed by the two countries under the composite dialogue framework, aimed at confidence-building, normalisation of bilateral relations and dispute resolution.
The eight items included in the composite dialogue framework include Siachen, Tulbul Navigation Project/Wullar Barrage, Sir Creek, economic and commercial cooperation and friendly exchanges, terrorism and drug trafficking, peace and security, and Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier this week the interior secretaries of the two countries met in Islamabad to discuss the vital issues of terrorism and drug trafficking as part of the ongoing peace process. The composite dialogue, which started in February 2004, is considered an integral part of the ongoing Pak-India peace process. However it has been marked by ups and downs.
The Pakistan-India dialogue process was virtually put on hold following the Indian embassy bombing in Kabul and rising tension over the Kashmir issue. Political observers fear that the latest terrorist attacks in Mumbai for which Pakistan is again being accused would put relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours in high strain once more.