Pranab to discuss Sarabjit, CBMs with Pakistan

May 10th, 2008 - 4:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) The fate of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh and cross-border trade and travel will top the agenda of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee when he goes to Islamabad May 21. Mukherjee will meet his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Their discussions will also cover Jammu and Kashmir.

As this will be the first high-level Indian visit to Pakistan since a civilian government took power in Islamabad, India will like to keep the focus on cross-border transport and trade links aimed at bridging trust deficit between the two neighbours.

At the same time, New Delhi will convey its concerns on the continuing cross-border terrorism and also infiltration by militants from Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir.

On Friday, the Border Security Force (BSF) opened fire to foil an attempted infiltration which some Indian officials said had the backing of Pakistan Rangers.

It was the first major incident of firing after India and Pakistan agreed to observe a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in November 2003.

Dates for the next meeting of a joint India-Pakistan anti-terror mechanism are also likely to be discussed, official sources said. The last meeting was held in New Delhi in October 2007.

Another important issue to figure in Mukherjee’s talks will be Sarabjit Singh, the Indian prisoner on death row who has been charged with masterminding bomb attacks in Multan nearly two decades ago.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani Friday urged President Pervez Musharraf to consider pardoning Sarabjit Singh, raising hopes of his early release.

The focus of the talks will be on promoting cross-border confidence building measures (CBMs), especially in the context of positive statements from the new dispensation in Pakistan on increasing bilateral trade.

Ahead of Mukherjee’s visit to Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy, Shyam Saran, Saturday left on a week-long tour of Jammu and Kashmir to study India’s ambitious plans to build border infrastructure. Saran will present a report to Manmohan Singh after his visit.

Mukherjee is likely to meet Manmohan Singh before he heads to Islamabad with a package of proposals for accelerating cross-border travel and trade between the two countries.

India has been pushing for these issues and favours increasing the frequency of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot bus services by making them weekly. They now ply once a fortnight.

New Delhi has also pitched for an early launch of bus services between Kargil in Ladakh and Skardu in Northern Areas in Pakistan as well as between Jammu and Sialkot in Pakistani Kashmir.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |