Not willing to provide assurance on composite dialogue resumption ...
11 Febrary 2010
India wants no preconditions
New Delhi: India is ready to discuss any issue Pakistan wishes to raise but is unwilling to assure Islamabad that the proposed Foreign Secretaries’ meeting will quickly lead to resumption of the composite dialogue, senior officials told The Hindu.
If Wednesday’s Pakistani statement reaffirming the need for the “composite dialogue process” is aimed at its domestic audience, India would have no problem, officials say. Nor are they opposed to the Foreign Secretaries discussing Pakistan’s desire to resume the composite dialogue. If an assurance about resumption is sought beforehand, however, the talks are likely to run into trouble even before they begin.
“Opinions in government may be divided on composite dialogue as a format,” one official acknowledged. “But if they are going to hold a gun to our head and say ‘only now will we talk’, that’s not going to work.”
Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has the backing of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for his latest peace initiative, the government is aware it is walking on eggshells.
Last month’s decision on talks was never formally discussed in the Cabinet Committee on Security, The Hindu has learned. But in informal consultations, CCS members like Defence Minister A.K. Antony are known to have expressed reservations about engaging Pakistan. “There is huge political aversion to resumption of the composite dialogue,” said an official, adding this was not out of fear of the BJP’s opposition but because many in the Congress believe the ‘no to talks’ stand helped the party win the April 2009 elections.