Pakistan and India start talking again after Mumbai attack

Frosty meeting leaves major sticking points but rivals will 'keep in touch'

Fifteen months after peace talks between India and Pakistan were abruptly halted in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the two South Asian neighbours retook their position across the negotiating table yesterday.

During a four-hour meeting hosted in Delhi, which was widely seen as more important for the fact that it simply took place rather than for what was achieved, each side raised with the other its "core issues" – subjects which have barely changed in years. For India, the priority was to push Pakistan to do more to counter militants, particularly those behind the attacks in Mumbai, while topping Pakistan's agenda was the demand to find a solution to the long-burning issue of Kashmir.

Whether any genuine progress was made in bridging the differences of the two nuclear-armed neighbours, who have gone to war on three occasions, may not become clear for some days yet. While no date has been set for more talks, both sides said they would "keep in touch".

But it appeared clear that there had been no breakthrough on anything that might have been considered substantive. Going into the talks both sides had played down their expectations and after the meeting at Hyderabad House, a former royal palace, was concluded, neither side suggested that their initial assessment had been wrong.

"We went into today's talks with an open mind but fully conscious of the limitations imposed by the large trust deficit between the two countries," said India's foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao. "In line with our graduated and step by step approach, our aims were modest." Her counterpart, Salman Bashir, said: "It was a useful exchange. We know all is not well, we know much more needs to be done. We will try to do what we can to make a serious effort to get back from the dirt track we find ourselves on, on to the highway of peace." During the talks, India handed Pakistan what it described as three new dossiers of information regarding the alleged involvement of Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, a former militant leader, in the Mumbai attacks. It called on the Pakistani authorities to take action against Mr Saeed, who recently held a public rally in Lahore at which he threatened to launch a new jihad against India if the Kashmir issue was not resolved.

Pakistani officials pointed out that seven suspects accused of involvement in the attacks that killed 166 people were already being tried in a court at Rawalpindi. Meanwhile, Mr Bashir leveled accusations at India, accusing it of involvement in activities damaging to Pakistan's security. He said there was "credible evidence" that India was supplying weapons to militants and terrorists seeking to undermine Pakistan. "We have ample evidence and we are willing to share this," he said.

Away from the sniping, analysts believe the countries may have been forced back to the negotiating table by the shifting geo-political realities in Afghanistan. Following the Afghanistan Conference in London, when it became clear the West was preparing to deal with at least some elements of the Taliban and that one of the interlocutors could be Pakistan, it appears India did not want to be left out of the larger negotiations.

Flashpoints

* Fought over three times, the long disputed region of Kashmir remains the major stumbling block to better relations between India and Pakistan. Two decades of violence between Indian security forces and Pakistan-backed militants have left more than 70,000 dead.

* India insists that Pakistan is not doing enough to counter Islamic militants, including those who have "infiltrated" Kashmir as well as those behind the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

* A long-standing treaty over shared water supplies from the Indus River has come into question with Pakistan accusing India of robbing it by building hydro-electric dams upstream.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Laser and Router Operative

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Laser and Router Operative is...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 1st Line

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They have been providing local ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive / Trainee Managers

£6000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for smart, orga...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones