Conflict & Justice

India, Pakistan foreign ministers hail new chapter of diplomacy


Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (R) shakes hands with Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna (L) prior to a meeting in New Delhi on July 27, 2011. India and Pakistan's foreign ministers were set to hold their first talks in a year, looking to breathe fresh life into a peace process still stifled by the trauma of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. India suspended contacts with its arch-rival after the attacks and their peace dialogue has struggled to gain any real traction since its formal resumption earlier this year in an atmosphere of mutual recrimination and mistrust.



India and Pakistan's foreign ministers hailed a new chapter in relations on Wednesday, after the first meeting between the countries top foreign policy officials in a year.

Indian foreign minister SM Krishna said ties were back "on the right track," after the meeting, according to the Times of India.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar spoke of a "new era" of cooperation, the paper said.

Nothing concrete came out of the session, apart from a bland joint statement about a bilateral effort to combat terrorism, increase trade and keep the peace dialogue going. But the convivial atmosphere was itself an achievement, given that India had suspended talks with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks -- which it blamed on Pakistan-based militants -- and the fact that the meeting was nearly derailed by another terrorist attack on Mumbai earlier this month.

"We have some distance to travel, but with an open mind and a constructive approach ... I am sure we can reach our desired destination of having a friendly and cooperative relationship," Krishna said, according to TOI.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them triggered by their territorial dispute over Kashmir, which remains a core issue and major hurdle in any future comprehensive peace deal.

In her remarks to the reporters, Khar said there had been "a mindset change" that had turned the resumed peace dialogue into an "uninterrupted and uninterruptable" process. "A new generation of Indians and Pakistanis will see a relationship that will hopefully be much different from the one that has been experienced in the last two decades," she said.

Meanwhile, though nobody will miss her predecessor, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was viewed here as intractable, there have been questions from some quarters about whether Khar, Pakistan's first female foreign minister, is too young, or too good looking, for the post.

At 34 years old, she is 45 years younger than India's Krishna. Every daily has Jackie O style photos of her today, bringing policy to the style and society pages (even the "Page Three" entertainment supplements). And India's mass circulation Hindi newspaper Navbharat Times has already declared that the whole country (not to mention South Block -- India's foreign policy HQ) is "sweating over [the] model-like minister."

If what Pakistan has in mind is a charm offensive, they couldn't do better at central casting.