The foreign ministers of nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan met July 27 in New Delhi, resuming their high-level dialogue on security and confidence-building measures for the first time since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. A key focus of the discussions was the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.
The bilateral relationship “should not be held hostage to the past,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. “It is our desire to make the dialogue process uninterrupted and uninterruptible,” she said.
Khar’s Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna, expressed confidence that relations between the two countries are “on the right track,” but he cautioned that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” A joint statement, released after the official talks, characterized the atmosphere as “candid, cordial and constructive” and announced that the two sides had agreed on new arrangements to increase travel and trade across the disputed Line of Control.
The ministers also committed to convening meetings of expert groups in Islamabad in September on confidence-building measures relating to nuclear and conventional weapons, which would constitute the first information-sharing initiative in years on nuclear issues between the two states. The most recent development in this field was a 2005 agreement on prenotification of ballistic missile tests.
The bilateral discussions have taken on a new urgency in the wake of Pakistan’s efforts to expand the production of fissile material for weapons. Islamabad’s current arsenal is estimated to include between 90 and 110 warheads. India is believed to have enough separated fissile material for an arsenal of more than 100 nuclear warheads. In April, Pakistan tested the Hatf-9 short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile. (See ACT, May 2011.)