Little hope for India-Pakistan dialogue, for now

Pak-India

Ties between bitter rivals India and Pakistan will not improve while the cloud of last November's militant assault on Mumbai hangs over their interactions, Pakistani and Indian analysts said on Monday.

India was using the Mumbai attack to pile pressure on Pakistan and distract attention from the issues that have soured relations for decades, a Pakistani analyst said.

An Indian analyst said India had yet to see a strategic shift in Pakistan's dealing with the terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attack, and public anger over Mumbai would prevent any early resumption of their nearly five-year-old peace process.

The Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers met in New York on Sunday with Pakistan signaling its desire to mend fences with a hesitant India, but the ministers stopped short of announcing a resumption of full-fledged peace negotiations.

"India is using this time to bring Pakistan under the maximum pressure that it can on the question of terrorism," said Shamshad Ahmed Khan, a former Pakistani foreign secretary.

Pakistan has acknowledged that the coordinated attacks on Mumbai in which 166 people were killed were plotted and partly launched from its soil. It is prosecuting seven suspects in a closed-door hearing that resumes on Oct. 3.

India, however, is pressing Pakistan to prosecute Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group India says was behind the Mumbai attack.

Saeed was detained in Pakistan in December, after a UN Security Council resolution put him on a list of people and organisations supporting al Qaeda.

But in June, a court released him on grounds of insufficient evidence, prompting the Pakistani government to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court for his re-arrest. That case is pending while Saeed remains under virtual house arrest.

'STRATEGIC SHIFT'

That's not enough for India.

... contd.

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