Indo-Pak Foreign Secretaries to discuss Kashmir
25 December 2005
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
New Delhi: The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet here on January 17-18 to launch the third round of the Composite Dialogue Process between the two countries, official sources said here today. The two countries have successfully completed two rounds of the Composite Dialogue. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran will head the Indian delegation at the two-day talks with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan to kick-start the third round of the dialogue process and will discuss Kashmir and peace and security issues, among other things. Although no official announcement has been made about the beginning of the third round of the Composite Dialogue Process, the sources said the dates had been suggested by Islamabad. Apart from discussing Jammu and Kashmir, the Foreign Secretaries will also review progress achieved during the previous two rounds. They will announce the schedule for discussions on various subjects under the Dialogue Process so that these meetings can be held before the Foreign Ministers of the two countries meet sometime in the middle of next year. Some of the subjects which would be included in the schedule besides Kashmir, include, Sir Creek, Siachen, drug trafficking and terrorism and confidence-building measures on nuclear and conventional weapons. The Foreign Secretary-level meeting will mark the first high-level official contact between the two countries in 2006. This will be the fifth meeting between Foreign Secretaries of the two countries under composite dialogue framework since 2004. The Foreign Secretary-level meeting acquires special significance in the backdrop of the proposals of 'demilitarisation and self-governance' in Kashmir mooted by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. The over-riding message from Pakistan to India at the upcoming meeting will be to move forward from the 'dispute management mode to the dispute resolution' mode and address all bilateral issues head-on, sources said. The sources said the opening of Consulates in Karachi and Mumbai and the launch of the KhokraparMunabao train route connecting Pakistans Sindh province and Rajasthan, in January would give a major boost to the Dialogue Process . India has already named Mr Navdeep Suri as its Consul General for Karachi while Pakistan is considering Mr Jauhar Salim to head its consulate in Mumbai, the sources said. Although the opening of the consulates has not yet been officially announced, arrangements were being made to open them in January, the sources added. The consulates were closed in 1992. 'January is going to be a landmark month in Indian-Pakistan relations,' the sources said adding that the Amitsar-Lahore and Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service will start from January. A bus will start from Amritsar to Lahore on January 20 while the trial run of the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus will be held on January 27 from Amritsar. The Amritsar-Lahore bus service will be the third bus service between the two countries. Bus services between Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Delhi-Lahore are already carrying passengers. On December 20-21, talks betwen the two sides on Sir Creek, a marshy land on the Western border between the two countries, ended in a deadlock and both sides said they would report the conclusion to their respective Governments. During the talks held in Islamabad on July 26-27, both countries had agreed to expand the 1974 bilateral Protocol to increase the number of shrines. India had presented a draft proposal on increasing the number of pilgrims and pilgrimage centres in both the countries. The visit of pilgrims is covered under the bilateral 'Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines-1974.'