[Somehow, the Tahir-ul-Qadri protest march was a tool for breaking the logjam over the LoC incidents. It provided the necessary distraction to take the public’s awareness off of the militancy that was showing its ugly head in Kashmir.]
When contacted, the Bhutto-Zardari contact confirmed playing a “small” role, but insisted on maintaining his anonymity.
Sources said that Indian authorities conveyed it to the Pakistani government that while they were keen to carry on the dialogue, the objective would be helped if Islamabad struck a conciliatory note.
Pakistan, which had until then brushed aside India’s protests, responded to the suggestion positively, perhaps because of mounting challenges back home. Within a span of days, cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri laid siege to Islamabad, the killing of Shias triggered an uprising and the SC order to arrest PM Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Water talks put off
Talks between the water secretaries of India and Pakistan, scheduled to be held in Islamabad during January 28-29 , have been put off in the wake of tension between the neighbours over ceasefire violations along the LoC. The Tulbul navigation project was to feature in the talks.
Khar’s offer for peace talks bridged the gap
Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar on January 9 offered to hold talks to address India’s concerns about the Line of Control (LoC) and to find ways to preserve the ceasefire the two sides agreed to in 2003. New Delhi saw the statement as an improvement over the stance Pakistan had taken earlier where it rejected India’s demand for an investigation into the LoC killings and said it would agree only to a probe by the United Nations.
India reciprocated a couple of days later, with foreign minister Salman Khurshid noting the positive elements of the statement of Khar and saying relations could reach the “near-normal” stage.