India: Peace process with Pakistan 'under stress'

India on Monday said its peace process with Pakistan was “under stress”, repeating allegations that “elements” in Islamabad were behind this month’s suicide attack against its Kabul embassy.

“The composite dialogue itself is under stress. The dialogue is happening at a difficult time in our relationship with Pakistan,” Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon told reporters in New Delhi.

“In the recent past, several events have vitiated the atmosphere,” he said.

“Incidents on the Line of Control [in Kashmir], incitement of violence, some [Pakistani] leaders reverting to the old polemics—and this sequence of events culminated in the suicide attack on our embassy in Kabul,” he said.

“All our information ... points to elements in Pakistan being behind the blast,” Menon said after talks with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Salman Bashir, as part of a peace process the two nuclear-armed rivals launched in 2004.

“The dialogue process is stressed, and it will certainly affect our relations with Pakistan,” Menon said.

“We, India, expect our concerns to be addressed,” the foreign secretary said, but added: “We consider it important that the dialogue process should continue.”

The July 7 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul left dozens dead, including India’s military attache and a diplomat.

Pakistan has already rejected previous allegations from Indian and Afghan officials that it was somehow involved in the bombing.

New Delhi also accuses Islamabad of backing Islamic militants who are waging an insurgency in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, which has triggered two of their three wars since 1947, and of being behind attacks in other parts of the country.

Pakistan also strongly denies it arms or trains the militants.

Ties between the South Asian rivals had improved since 2004 with increased political, tourist, sporting and cultural exchanges.

But the process has had its frequent ups and downs.

India stalled peace talks in 2006 in the aftermath of a series of bomb explosions on commuter trains in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, in which 186 people were killed—an attack also blamed in Islamabad.

Leaders of the rival nations—Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf—later agreed to resume the process after constituting an anti-terror panel comprising foreign and interior ministry officials from both sides.—AFP


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