Islamabad/New Delhi: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India appears to
have triggered a chain of positive events, with Pakistani
scientist Mohammed Khalil Chisty getting bail two days later and
Islamabad Thursday releasing 26 Indian fishermen.
It was just 40 minutes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spent talking
an entire gamut of bilateral issues with Zardari Sunday, but the
discussions seem to be having a positive ripple effect days after
the meeting, infusing a new energy into bilateral ties.
Zardari had alluded to Chisty, an 80-year-old Pakistani virologist
languishing in a jail in Ajmer on murder charges for almost two
decades, during lunch with Manmohan Singh. But little did he know
that India's Supreme Court will grant him bail on Wednesday, while
taking note of "good tidings" in India-Pakistan relations.
Chisty profusely thanked Zardari for taking up his case with
India. "Zardari made efforts for me, I am thankful to him. I know
Zardari's family since my childhood days. I also thank him for
visiting Ajmer," he had said after his release on bail.
Although there is no link with the Chisty case, Pakistan Thursday
decided to release 26 Indian fishermen, including a cancer
patient, from a jail in Karachi. After their release from Malir
Jail, the fishermen said the Pakistani authorities treated them
well and they were happy to return to their homes, the Online news
Samat Lakshman Bambhaniya, the fisherman suffering from cancer,
thanked Zardari for issuing orders for his release. He said he had
entered Pakistani waters by mistake as he was unaware of the
limits. Bambhaniya had been lodged in the Karachi jail for over a
In New Delhi, well-placed sources have taken note of positive
developments and are reasonably confident of the trajectory of
India-Pakistan ties, which have been given a fresh momentum by
Manmohan Singh's acceptance of Pakistan's invitation to visit the
Although Pakistan is insisting on end-of-the-year deadline, India
has refused to be drawn into the deadline trap as much could
happen in the next few months that could set the well-laid plans
awry. The timing of the visit, New Delhi feels, will depend on
forward movement on Islamabad's action in bringing the 26/11
perpetrators to justice and against 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
In the meantime, the two sides are in touch to schedule three
important meetings whose outcome would be factored into any
decision by the prime minister's visit to Pakistan.
Home secretaries of India and Pakistan are likely to meet May-end
to carry forward the dialogue on terror issues and the progress
Islamabad has made in bringing 26/11 terrorists to justice.
The two officials are expected to sign an agreement to liberalise
the visa regime that could make travel easier, especially for
businessmen, giving boost to trade that has emerged as a new focus
of engagement between the two countries.
Talks are also on to schedule meetings between defence secretaries
of the two countries on the disputed Siachen glacier, the world's
highest battlefield. The meeting between officials to demarcate
maritime boundary and to resolve issues related to the Sir Creek
marshland adjoining Gujarat in India and the Pakistani province of
Sind is also expected to be held soon.
No dates have been set, but it's likely that the talks on these
two issues could take place before External Affairs Minister S.M.
Krishna's visit to Islamabad in June-July.