India says ready to resume talks with Pak if circumstances are 'befitting'
India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said Friday New Delhi would be keen to revive trade talks with Islamabad only if circumstances were 'befitting', and also expressed deep concern over recent death of an Indian prisoner in a Pakistan jail.
The statement comes a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited India for "comprehensive, sustained and result-oriented" dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Sharif had said that the tensions would prevail until mistrust regarding the Kashmir issue was resolved in accordance with the will of the Himalayan valley's people.
Khurshid said India's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma would soon be visiting Pakistan on trade talks.
"It will all depend on the circumstances which have to be considered thoughtfully. Circumstances had caused us to suspend it, circumstances must be befitting for it to be revived. Things had become very dismal, they have improved undoubtedly but there is still a lot of work to be done. I believe my colleague Anand Sharma is going to Pakistan on trade talks, let us see what happens," said Khurshid.
Efforts by India and Pakistan to increase trade and ease tension in disputed Kashmir had earlier suffered a blow when Indian police said they had seized more than 100 kg (220 lb) of heroin concealed in a truck full of nuts coming from the Pakistan side.
Pakistan halted cross-border trade and bus travel across the Himalayan region after the seizure, and on January 21, New Delhi summoned Pakistan's acting envoy in protest.
Pakistan said India often caused problems on the Kashmir border with unsubstantiated allegations.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's counterpart Sharif, who came to power last year, are keen to rebuild ties and diplomats say closer integration of Pakistan with India's giant economy could lay the ground for improving political relations.
Pakistan has repeatedly said that both the countries need to resume dialogue process without any delay for meaningful and result-oriented talks for resolving bilateral issues including Kashmir.
The talks came as a welcome step amid rising tension between the two countries, although the Indian government earlier seemed divided over continuation of trade dialogue with its rival.
Meanwhile, Khurshid also expressed deep concern over the recent death of an Indian prisoner inside a Pakistani jail.
"The counsellor people are handling it. It's a matter of concern that an Indian citizen, no matter under what circumstances, is found in this condition or is to be a subject of unnatural death. It's a matter of grave concern to the country and to the government but there are procedures by which we handle it," said Khurshid.
The dead man was identified as a fisherman named Kishore Bhagwan, who had been found dead in Karachi's Malir prison, also called Landhi jail and was handed over to a morgue on February 4. The cause of his death was not immediately known.
In December 2013, another Indian fisherman named Bhikha Lakha Shiyal died in a Karachi prison. His body has yet to be handed over to Indian officials.
(Posted on 07-02-2014)