Pak Foreign Minister Starts India Visit By Meeting Kashmiri Separatists26 July 2011
Times of India
New Delhi: Pakistan's 34-year-old foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar landed in Delhi on Tuesday for a crucial meeting with her Indian counterpart S M Krishna expressing hope that ties could move forward but chose to meet Kashmiri separatists ahead of her official talks. Ahead of Wednesday's talks, foreign secretaries Salman Bashir and Nirupama Rao held 'positive and very cordial' discussions to firm up the agenda for the talks. 'I hope that these two countries have learnt lessons from history, but are not burdened by history and we can move forward as good, friendly neighbours who have stake in each other's future and both the countries understand their responsibilities to the region and within the region,' Khar said after her arrival. Khar, however, met top Hurriyat leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in the Pakistani high commission on Tuesday evening. The separatist leaders are said to have emphasized the importance of making Kashmiris a part of the India-Pakistan dialogue. Indian officials had earlier said that such a meeting, if it happened ahead of the talks on Wednesday, would be a 'bad idea'. Khar had met JKLF chairman Yaseen Malik on Monday in Lahore. Earlier, Rao and Bashir reviewed the progress in talks between different ministries and organizations of the two countries in the preceding months. The two officials briefed their respective ministers of their discussions ahead of the dialogue on Wednesday. Rao and Bashir are understood to have finalised a slew of CBMs designed to expand cross-LoC travel and trade in Jammu and Kashmir apart from holding discussions on terror, including progress in Pakistan in the probe into 2008 Mumbai attacks and ISI's links with Kashmiri separatists. After the delegation level talks on Wednesday, Khar is expected to meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. Later in the evening, she will call on PM Manmohan Singh. BJP sources said she also call on party veteran L K Advani in the morning. Interestingly, no Krishna-Khar joint press interaction was scheduled for Wednesday. Sources, however, did not completely rule out the possibility of such a conference saying that it could depend on the outcome of the meeting. The last meeting between the foreign ministers ended on a disastrous note in July last year in Islamabad with both then Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi and Krishna trying to outdo each other in a joint press conference.