M A I N   E W S

Pak aiming at third-party mediation
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
Pakistan’s unprovoked move of initiating a tit-for-tat game with India of expelling diplomats on espionage charges is being seen here as Islamabad pitching for a third-party mediation in the Indo-Pak talks.

Significantly, the Pakistani move came at a time when US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Mr Richard Boucher is already here for talks with Indian officials. Mr Boucher is meeting Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and his Indian counterpart, Dr S. Jaishanker, Joint Secretary (Americas) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), tomorrow.

However, Pakistan is low down on the MEA’s talking points with Mr Boucher — thanks to a comparatively new approach of the Indian Government wherein New Delhi has shed its Pakistan obsession.

India is consciously readying itself for playing a bigger role in the world and as part of this vision, it is no longer Pakistan-centric in its dealings with other powers.

This correspondent understands that during their talks with Mr Boucher tomorrow, the Indian officials will be focussed on India’s bilateral relationship with the USA and action taken by the two governments in wake of President George W. Bush’s India visit in March this year.

Topping the agenda of Mr Boucher’s talks tomorrow will be the Indo-US nuclear deal, which has already got the nod of the House of Representatives and is expected to come up for the Senate’s approval next month.

New Delhi’s sense is that Islamabad took an unusually strong step yesterday of expelling Indian diplomat in Pakistan Deepak Kaul, forcing India to retaliate in equal measure to send a signal domestically as well as to the international community.

To the domestic constituency, the Pervez Musharraf regime signalled its hard stand vis-a-vis India and its exasperation over the pace of the Indo-Pak Composite Dialogue process, which is currently in a deep freeze after the completion of three rounds of talks.

Internationally, the message sought to be sent out by Islamabad is that without the mediation of other world powers (read the USA) the differences between the two nuclear neighbours cannot be resolved.

At the same time, yesterday’s tit-for-tat exercise between India and Pakistan does not mean that the setback to the normalisation process is irreversible. Things can still be on the revival mode, the feeling in the UPA government is.

An opportunity is coming up next month when the two countries can talk to each other at the highest level on the margins of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Cuba. It is felt that the logjam in the Indo-Pak dialogue can now be removed only at the highest level.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |