Manmohan-Zardari talks unleash positive trends in India-Pakistan ties (Lead)

April 12th, 2012 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Islamabad/New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to India appears to have triggered a chain of positive events, with Pakistani scientist Mohammed Khalil Chisty getting bail two days later and Islamabad Thursday releasing 26 Indian fishermen.

It was just 40 minutes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spent talking an entire gamut of bilateral issues with Zardari Sunday, but the discussions seem to be having a positive ripple effect days after the meeting, infusing a new energy into bilateral ties.

Zardari had alluded to Chisty, an 80-year-old Pakistani virologist languishing in a jail in Ajmer on murder charges for almost two decades, during lunch with Manmohan Singh. But little did he know that India’s Supreme Court will grant him bail on Wednesday, while taking note of “good tidings” in India-Pakistan relations.

Chisty profusely thanked Zardari for taking up his case with India. “Zardari made efforts for me, I am thankful to him. I know Zardari’s family since my childhood days. I also thank him for visiting Ajmer,” he had said after his release on bail.

Although there is no link with the Chisty case, Pakistan Thursday decided to release 26 Indian fishermen, including a cancer patient, from a jail in Karachi. After their release from Malir Jail, the fishermen said the Pakistani authorities treated them well and they were happy to return to their homes, the Online news agency reported.

Samat Lakshman Bambhaniya, the fisherman suffering from cancer, thanked Zardari for issuing orders for his release. He said he had entered Pakistani waters by mistake as he was unaware of the limits. Bambhaniya had been lodged in the Karachi jail for over a year now.

In New Delhi, well-placed sources have taken note of positive developments and are reasonably confident of the trajectory of India-Pakistan ties, which have been given a fresh momentum by Manmohan Singh’s acceptance of Pakistan’s invitation to visit the neighbouring country.

Although Pakistan is insisting on end-of-the-year deadline, India has refused to be drawn into the deadline trap as much could happen in the next few months that could set the well-laid plans awry. The timing of the visit, New Delhi feels, will depend on forward movement on Islamabad’s action in bringing the 26/11 perpetrators to justice and against 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

In the meantime, the two sides are in touch to schedule three important meetings whose outcome would be factored into any decision by the prime minister’s visit to Pakistan.

Home secretaries of India and Pakistan are likely to meet May-end to carry forward the dialogue on terror issues and the progress Islamabad has made in bringing 26/11 terrorists to justice.

The two officials are expected to sign an agreement to liberalise the visa regime that could make travel easier, especially for businessmen, giving boost to trade that has emerged as a new focus of engagement between the two countries.

Talks are also on to schedule meetings between defence secretaries of the two countries on the disputed Siachen glacier, the world’s highest battlefield. The meeting between officials to demarcate maritime boundary and to resolve issues related to the Sir Creek marshland adjoining Gujarat in India and the Pakistani province of Sind is also expected to be held soon.

No dates have been set, but it’s likely that the talks on these two issues could take place before External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Islamabad in June-July.

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