New Delhi: Pakistan has consistently assured India in recent meetings that its often recalcitrant army is backing India-Pakistan dialogue for peace. At an interview on CNBC TV 18, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao however stopped short of saying that India “believed” what was being told about Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani being on board with the civilian government.
“Well, we can only go by what the Government of Pakistan is telling us at the moment. We do not have any direct dealings with the army of Pakistan,” Rao told Karan Thapar on India Tonight.
Delhi has generally been wary of Pakistan’s army vetoing any gains made through negotiations with a weak civilian government. Rao’s response acknowledged that, indirectly. “I do not believe we underestimate the complexities involved in the relationship,” she said. But she added that the Pakistan Government has been telling India that the dialogue with India to seek a peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues is “a policy that is shared or is endorsed by all the institutions of government including the army.” “This is the message that we are getting consistently in the last few meetings,” the Foreign Secretary said. Rao did little to dispel the impression that her External Affairs Ministry was not in the loop when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to invite his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the India-Pakistan World Cup cricket semi-final in Mohali. “It was a decision of the Prime Minister and I think it was a very good and timely and effective decision,” she said.
The talks between the Home Secretaries just before Mohali, she said, were “very significant, very positive, very constructive.” The Home Secretaries’ meeting marked the revival of the composite dialogue – though not by that name – that India put on hold after Mumbai 26/11 attacks in 2008. Rao insisted that she won’t get stuck on nomenclatures.