India’s likely attendance at Indus meet seen as step to re-engage Pakistan

India signalling its willingness to attend a meeting of Indus water commissioners in Lahore later this month could be an indication that the two countries were ready to start re-engaging after a year of acrimony, say analysts.

Any movement forward will, however, depend on Pakistan stemming the flow of terrorists into India this summer as well as honouring a 2003 ceasefire pact, often violated to give militants the cover of fire as they sneak across the border, the analysts say.

To be sure, the resumption of peace talks between India and Pakistan—suspended since 2013 —is nowhere on the horizon yet. Indian officials have stressed that India agreeing to attend the Indus water commissioners’ talks in no way means the recommencement of bilateral dialogue.

New Delhi’s acceptance of an invitation to the Lahore meeting comes days after the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or Saarc, got a new secretary general from Pakistan—veteran diplomat Amjad Hussain Sial. India, the biggest country in the grouping, had previously cited procedural issues to seemingly block Sial’s appointment.

Taken together, “these seem steps to normalise relations with Pakistan though starting an engagement through dialogue is far away at this point,” said Lalit Mansingh, former foreign secretary.

India had indicated a suspension of the water commissioners’ talks after a terrorist attack in Uri on 18 September killed 19 soldiers. New Delhi also embarked on a campaign to highlight Pakistan’s role in fomenting terrorism against it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying “blood and water cannot flow together”.

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Credit- Live Mint

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