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Asia-Pacific

Indian and Pakistani FMs hail progress in Islamabad talks

media Pakistan's Shah Mehmood Qureshi greets India's SM Krishna Reuters/Adrees Latif

The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan say there were “positive developments” in talks in Islamabad on Thursday morning and agreed to meet again later in the day. The meeting was the first between India’s SM Krishna and Pakistan’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi since the 2008 Mumbai atttacks.

Krishna and Qureshi discussed for three hours Thursday morning and then had a working lunch. They postponed a joint press conference in order to meet again.

 
Krishna is meeting Pakistani President Asaf Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani before seeing Qureshi a second time.
 
During the morning talks, Krishna raised Indian concerns over political violence emanating from Pakistan and pressed for action against those involved in the Mumbai attacks.
 
On Wednesday, senior Indian civil servant GK Pillai told the Indian Express newspaper that new evidence has revealed that Pakistan’s secret services masterminded the Mumbai bombings.

 
Other points of contention include the divided state of Kashmir and rivalry in Afghanistan.
 
India and Pakistan’s prime ministers met in April on the sidelines of a regional summit in Bhutan.
 
Thursday’s meeting is taking place thanks to pressure from Washington rather than any enthusiasm on the part of the two countries, analyst Suba Chandran at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in Delhi told RFI. He believes that neither side was well prepared for such a high-level encounter.

Pakistan-India - what they don't agree on

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since partition in the wake of the British Raj in 1947. Relations are plagued by disputes over the border, resources and accusations of support for cross-border terror attacks.

Here are some of the main points of contention:

  • Kashmir – The Muslim-majority state has been divided since partition, with India controlling most of it; Pakistan claims the whole state and is accused of training Islamist guerrillas to fight Indian rule; in addition to various armed groups, several political parties oppose Delhi's rule and organise frequent protests and strikes; some want to join Pakistan, others want independence.
  • Cross-border violence – India accuses Pakistan’s secret services of being behind many bombings and other attacks on its soil; it says Islamabad has failed to crack down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, which it blames for the Mumbai attacks; a senior civil servant claims a confession by a US-born Islamist shows that Pakistan’s secret services, the ISI, masterminded the 2008 slaughter.
  • Afghanistan – Pakistan regards Afghanistan as its back yard, and the ISI helped train both anti-Soviet fighters and the Taliban; India has increased its investment and influence since the 2001 US-led invasion, leading to Pakistan fearing that it will be encircled.
  • Water – Farmers in the Pakisani breadbasket province of Punjab accuse India of reducing the Chenab river to a trickle; Pakistan claims that a power project in Kashmir violates the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.

 

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