Ranjana Narayan, thestatesman.com
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Is the thaw in India-Pakistan ties with the decision to hold a "comprehensive bilateral dialogue" just a case of old wine in a new bottle? Experts say they are hopeful the talks, especially the one between the National Security Advisors, “would be different this time” but only time would tell if the dialogue would yield any tangible results.
India and Pakistan issued a joint statement announcing the holding of a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue following talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistani Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Former Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh said he is “very pleased” at the resumption of the bilateral dialogue. “I am one of those who believe that we must talk to Pakistan; and not having a dialogue is not an option for India,” Mansingh told thestatesman.com.
“Whether this is really a new chapter in ties, I am not so sure, because if you’ve been watching India-Pakistan relations for decades, there is this pattern of high and lows. We have completed one low period and are about to start another high one; and it never really results in any spectacular breakthrough,” Mansingh said. ...
Former envoy Rajiv Dogra told thestatesman.com: "Nothing has changed since 2008. Let us hope for the best as on the ground the situation is still the same; almost daily acts of terrorism; everyday our jawans are being killed, everyday CRPF camps are being attacked, the situation on the ground has not changed... It is an effort on the part of the Indian Government to give peace yet another chance”.
“The best thing to do is to hope that this time it is different,” Dogra said.
On the NSA talks, Dogra, who was Consul General in Karachi, said he did not want to prejudge the effort. “Marks for the effort but the fact is that we have conceded to what Pakistan wanted - that is to club terrorism with Kashmir.”
He also felt that the talks between the two NSAs and foreign secretaries held in Bangkok went "against the spirit of the times of public diplomacy”.
Dogra also felt that the previous UPA government "at least maintained a public posture that terror and talks cannot go together, and that is why the dialogue did not go ahead". He said though former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his counterparts from Pakistan the formal dialogue was interrupted. "Whereas this time, we have formally resumed the dialogue, which means we have forgiven and forgotten what happened in 2008," he added. ...