Important Indo-Pak talks later this month
Defence and commerce secretaries to talk with days of each other
India and Pakistan have a packed calendar of official engagements over the next two months.
As the defence secretaries revive talks on Siachen and Sir Creek on 22 April, the commerce secretaries of both countries are also meeting in Islamabad on 27-28 April.
The meetings come on the heels of talks between the home secretaries of the two countries here in March, followed by an informal meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final match in Mohali.
“By the end of April the commerce secretaries will meet in Islamabad,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
Formal and structured talks between the two countries were suspended after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The commerce secretaries would try to iron out outstanding issues affecting bilateral trade and the talks are expected to give boost to trade across the borders.
Official sources suggest that there was considerable progress on Siachen and Sir Creek in 2008 when the Mumbai attacks punctured the peace process.
An agreement on Sir Creek, a strip of water between Gujarat (Kutch region) and the Pakistani province of Sindh (Thatta region), had become possible after a joint survey by hydrographers of both countries in January 2007.
The hydrographers exchanged their maps in March 2008, with both sides agreeing to draw a line in the middle of the creek.
On Siachen, India had agreed to demilitarise the icy battlefield, provided Pakistan agrees to ‘authenticate’ the relative troop positions along the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), the undelineated stretch between the last marked grid reference point NJ-9842 on the Line of Control and the Karakoram Pass.
Iftikhar Gilani is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com.