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Posted on Nov 16, 07:36PM | IANS
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's much-speculated visit to Pakistan seems extremely unlikely with India indicating Friday that there is "a very small window", and stressing that people were still waiting for the "balm" to heal the wounds of 26/11.
"There is a very small window for the prime minister's visit to Pakistan," a highly-placed source in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said here Friday.
"The window is very small because they (Pakistan) are moving very fast towards their elections next year. I am not very sure that the visit of that nature is possible and probable during that window, which is very short," said the MEA source.
New Delhi treaded cautiously, however, saying it was not exactly linking the visit to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, but has made it clear many times that Indians haven't forgotten the hurt inflicted by the 26/11 attacks in which 10 Pakistani nationals were involved.
"This is not a preconditional approach. There are things that have hurt us greatly. The sense of hurt is not over," the MEA source said.
"We owe it to our people that we haven't forgotten the hurt. We need a little balm. We need some delivery," said the source.
"Whether we are bitter, the answer is no. Whether we have forgotten, the answer is no. Therefore, a little balm is necessary to give us the strength and courage to move forward and that is all we expect from Pakistan," the source added.
"There must be some delivery. We are ready for some delivery, so that we can move forward and all this has to be kept in mind when the prime minister decides what the path will be," according to the official.
The sources admitted that there was "enthusiasm" on part of the Pakistan leadership to see Manmohan Singh, who was born in Gah village in Pakistan, visit that country. "We are receiving some interesting positive signals but at the same time there are expectations that remain unfulfilled," sources said.
The Pakistani media has been replete with reports in the past month suggesting that the Pakistani government was keen on Manmohan Singh's visit before elections, likely in March or May.
The sources stressed that "accountability for what happened in the past and assurance for what must not happen in future" should go hand in hand.
They added that India was putting best efforts which were "persistent, consistent, clear and determined" to push Pakistan on 26/11.
Underlining that India would continue engagement with Pakistan, shown by the momentum in the revived dialogue process and the conclusion of a landmark visa pact, the sources described New Delhi's approach as one of "cautious movement".
"We are cautiously moving forward. Cautious movement is the best way forward," said an official. A lot of factors have to be taken into account before a prime ministerial visit takes place, he said.
According to sources, the visa agreement sealed between the two countries in September will be operational soon. There are no hiccups. "The speed with which both sides are working on this is remarkable," said an official.
During his meeting with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Tehran in August, Manmohan Singh had conveyed that expeditious concluding of 26/11 trial would be the biggest confidence-building measure by Pakistan.
During his visit to Islamabad in September, then external affairs minister S.M. Krishna had said the prime minister would visit Pakistan when the atmosphere is "ripe" and there is something "worthwhile".