Ahead of talks, Pakistan’s new envoy arrives in India

June 21st, 2012 - 5:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) Ahead of the talks between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, Pakistan’s High Commissioner-designate Salman Bashir has arrived here and is expected to present his credentials soon.

Bashir, a former foreign secretary during whose tenure India and Pakistan began the process of re-engaging after a long hiatus following the 26/11 Mumbaiattacks, arrived in New Delhi Wednesday evening.

He is expected to present his credentials to the president soon, likely early next week, official sources said Thursday.

The mild-mannered Bashir, a former ambassador to China, attracted headlines in India a couple of years ago for rubbishing evidence produced by New Delhi against Hafiz Saeed, the suspected 26/11 mastermind, as a piece of literature. However, in diplomatic circles he is better known for his efforts to improve the India-Pakistan relations that underwent aprolonged bout of uncertainty after the 26/11 attacks.

Bashir touched down in India a day after Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Yousaf Raza Gilani as the country’s prime minister following its April 26 verdict that held him in contempt of court for refusing to write to the Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Bashir succeeds Shahid Malik and boasts of an impressive resume that includes stints as Pakistan’s Additional Foreign Secretary (2003-2005), ambassador to Denmark and Lithuania (July 1999 to February 2003).

Bashir will take charge barely days before Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani comes here for talks with his Indian counterpart Ranjan Mathai. Two weeks ago, Jilani had said he would be coming to India June 29, but given political turmoil back home there are indications that the foreign secretary-level talks are now likely to be held July 4-5.

The foreign secretaries are expected to prepare the ground for talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries in Islamabad, likely mid-July.

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