The long-awaited talks between the home secretaries of India and Pakistan are likely to take place on May 24 and 25 in Islamabad. The talks were postpone at least twice in the last six months due to disagreement over dates.
The talks are an important part of the composite dialogue between the two countries and concentrate mainly on security-related issues. Like the previous meetings,New Delhi is expected to push Pakistan on bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strikes to justice.
The last such meeting was held in March last year in New Delhi and this time it is Pakistans turn to host it. Pakistan had proposed April 16 as a possible date but New Delhi turned it down in view of the fact that a Chief Ministers conference was scheduled on that date. Home Secretary R K Singh had then suggested that Pakistan offer a suitable date sometime after the Budget session of Parliament. The Parliament session ends on May 23. Earlier,India had proposed dates in December last year but that was not accepted by Pakistan.
In an important confidence-building measure ahead of the meet,the Cabinet Committee on Security on Thursday approved a proposal to ease visa restrictions on Pakistanis visiting India. Businessmen from Pakistan can now hope to get multi-entry visas without having to report to police stations daily and one that would allow them to travel to five cities in India instead of a maximum of three that is allowed now.
This approval paves the way for an expected signing of an agreement on a new visa regime between the two countries during the meeting of the Home Secretaries.