Backdoor channels on to normalise tense India-Pakistan ties

December 6th, 2008 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Dec 6 (IANS) Backchannel efforts are on normalise relations between India and Pakistan that have hit a rocky patch after the Mumbai terror attacks that India says was launched by terrorists from Pakistan.A senior government official told IANS that initial contacts between the two neighbours has been made and “soon” a Pakistani official - a former secretary of foreign affairs - would be travelling to New Delhi to take the Indian leadership into confidence on Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorism in the region.

Refusing to divulge the name of the former secretary who is going to India, the official said that the names on both the sides would be kept a secret until the contact is declared official by both the governments.

India has charged that the terrorists involved in the attacks in Mumbai in which 172 people, including foreigners, were killed came from Pakistan and has demanded extradition of three people - Indian mobster Dawood Ibrahim, chief of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, Masood Azhar, and chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

Pakistan has denied that Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan and asked India to give proof of the involvement of the other two in the attack.

“If India provides us evidence we are ready to take action against the people concerned,” President Asif Ali Zardari has said repeatedly.

According to the official, the backdoor channel diplomacy was opened after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice convinced the Indian leadership not to close the communication channels between the countries.

In her press conference in Islamabad Thursday, Rice had said that she sees no reason for closure of communication channels between India and Pakistan and hoped that both will continue talking as there was a lot of information to share.

The official said the backdoor contacts are in very initial stage and the parleys may take place anywhere, “beyond media access”, to exchange “non-papers” for cooperation on terrorism.

This is not the first time that both the rivals are using backdoor diplomacy to salvage souring ties and move towards normalization of relations.

According to the official, such a channel was first used in 1965 when both the countries went to war and this method worked successfully.

Backdoor channels have been used by successive Indian and Pakistani governments to move towards normalising relationships between them, the official said. The last time the backdoor channel was used was in 2006 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had refused to meet then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf in Havana on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement conference.

It was after secret talks between Musharraf’s close aide and a top Congress leader that paved the way for the meeting between the two leaders.

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