Islamabad: There is apprehension that the Pakistan, India bilateral dialogue may suffer the same fate as the proposed dialogue after the Mumbai attacks, said a Pakistani daily which noted that "the post-Pathankot scenario has a chilling resemblance to post-Mumbai".
An editorial on Pakistan-India talks in the Daily Times on Saturday said that if the latest statements of the Pakistani foreign office and the Indian foreign ministry are perused, what one finds is an all too familiar ring to these utterings.
Pakistan "has thrown the ball back into India's court as far as settling mutually convenient dates for the foreign secretaries talks originally scheduled for January 15 but postponed due to the Pathankot attack," said the daily.
It observed that both sides had been careful to underline that the talks had only been postponed, not cancelled.
"Yet here we are more than a month down the road since then, and all we are hearing from the Pakistani side as well as the Indian foreign ministry spokesman is that 'mutually convenient' dates are not yet in hand..."
The editorial noted that despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's reiterations of resolve to counter terrorism and the detention of Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, accused of masterminding the Pathankot attack, "immense uncertainty looms over the (preliminary) meeting of the foreign secretaries in order to pave the way for the Bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue to follow".
"Both sides seem firmly bogged down in the old and worn ruts, particularly since Islamabad insists the 'evidence' regarding the Pathankot attack provided by India is 'insufficient'."
It went on to say that if there is a chink of light "one is the statement of the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit, who is confident the foreign secretary talks will begin in February and the other the report that the Pakistani and Indian foreign secretaries could meet this week on the sidelines of a conference in San Francisco, where they will take advantage of the opportunity to discuss dates for their formal interaction".
It said that the "apprehension is that this bilateral dialogue may suffer the same fate as the proposed dialogue after the Mumbai attacks".
"Governments in Islamabad and New Delhi changed while both sides were still dancing their minuet around the investigations of that terror attack and even the replacement governments have made little if any progress in that direction. Now comes Pathankot just as the two sides had groped their way back to the negotiating table after initial aggressive intent was on display from the Modi government.
"On present trends at least, the post-Pathankot scenario has a chilling resemblance to post-Mumbai."
The daily said that the people of the subcontinent await with a mixture of hope and resignation the reversal of this familiar Pakistan-India impasse.
"...The eminently logical recourse to the weapon of language rather than the time-worn language of weapons remains to be established as the dominant and irreversible currency of the relationship. Hope for the best, but don't hold your breath where these two countries are concerned".