Consulates in Karachi, Mumbai will take more time

New Delhi, Jan 1 | Updated: Jan 2 2006, 05:30am hrs
Minor hurdles obstructing the peace process between India and Pakistan have resulted in some more delay in confidence-building measures (CBMs) like reopening of Indian and Pakistani consulates in Mumbai and Karachi as well as the Munabao-Khokrapar rail link between the two countries.

During the visit of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf here last year, both sides had agreed to open the consulates on the New Year, but delays on the part of Islamabad in identifying suitable locations in Mumbai have held up the issue.

The reopening could now take awhile as Pakistan has not yet been able to zero on even a temporary location in Mumbai to run the consulate. As per the understanding between the two countries, both consulates were to have been opened simultaneously.

There are some location issues in Mumbai. As much as we would have liked to open the consulates in time, the delay was due to location problems. We are trying to open as soon as possible, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson, Tasnim Aslam is reported to have said.

Officials here maintained that teams of Indian engineers had already completed renovation work with inputs from Indian diplomats in Karachi and merely awaiting clearance from Islamabad.

India has suggested to Pakistan that since Islamabad is taking time, it could permit India to reopen its consulate in Karachi, but Pakistan has insisted on simultaneous timing.

The commencement of the Khokhrapar-Munnabao train service, which was scheduled to run from Sunday as per the understanding reached during Mr Musharrafs visit, too has been postponed. A likely date is expected to be reached after the visit of the Pakistan railway officials delegation to New Delhi on Wednesday.