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Indo-Pak talks a risk for PM, say analysts

Source: ANI
Last updated on: February 25, 2010 14:47 IST

As India and Pakistan return to the dialogue table after a 14-month-long hiatus, analysts believe resuming deliberations with Islamabad after the Mumbai terror attacks has become a personal priority and a political risk for the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

A large part of the population in India is unhappy over its overtures towards Pakistan, and they add that merely returning to formal diplomacy would only stir domestic controversy as well as confusion, The New York Times reports.

Former top Indian diplomat Lalit Mansingh said that while Dr. Singh has been trying hard to restart talks between both countries, he has somehow failed to garner support of people in the country.

"He looks at India in the long term. But tactically, he has been unable to take the country along when it comes to specific issues like the dialogue with Pakistan. This is where political skill comes in," Mansingh said.

"To me it is possible to explain this to the public. But it hasn't been done. That, to me, is the biggest weakness," he added.

According to Gopalapuram Parthasarathy, former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, by moving forward with the talks, the Congress-led government is 'undercutting' its 26/11 stance that it will only restart the dialogue with Islamabad when it comes down hard on terror groups based on its soil, whose prime target is India.

Parthasarathy, who is considered a hardliner on defence and security issues, underlined that talks would not receive much support from political quarters in India.

"Yes, you have to talk to a neighbor, but the question is: On what? And how? Believe me, the dialogue process is going to have a very thin membrane of political backing in India," he said.

However, some experts say India's offer to talk is in a right direction, as there are no other means through which both the nuclear power nations could resolve issues that have been lingering for decades.

"It is the right step. There's no other way that India and Pakistan can address their issues. This can only fester if they are unaddressed," said Salman Haider,  former Foreign Secretary.

Some are also of the view that by responding to India's offer Islamabad is trying to position itself for when the United States begins negotiating an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

"The India-Pakistan dialogue is only a sideshow. For most Indians, the central issue is India and Pakistan. For me, the central issue is that the Americans are fighting the Taliban groups inside Pakistan," said K. Subrahmanyam, a leading strategic affairs analyst.

Source: ANI
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