Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's much speculated visit to Pakistan seems to be off, at least in the near term, with India indicating that there is "a very small window" and stressing that people were still waiting for the "balm" of 26/11 justice.
"There is a very small window for the prime minister's visit to Pakistan," highly-placed sources in India's external affairs ministry said here Friday.
India, however, treaded cautiously, saying it was not linking the visit to the Mumbai terror attacks but also making it clear that the people of India haven't forgotten the hurt inflicted by 26/11 attacks in which 10 Pakistani nationals were involved.
"This is not a preconditional approach. There are things that have hurt us greatly. The sense of hurt is not over," said the sources.
"We owe it to our people that we haven't forgotten the hurt. We need a little balm. We need some delivery," said the sources.
Underlining that India would continue engagement with Pakistan, as shown by the momentum in the revived dialogue process and the conclusion of a landmark visa pact, the sources described New Delhi's approach as one of "cautious movement".
"We are cautiously moving forward. Cautious movement is the best way forward," said the sources. A lot of factors have to be taken into account before a prime ministerial visit takes place, they said.
For months, there has been speculation that Manmohan Singh, born in Gah village of Punjab province of present day Pakistan, may go on a bilateral visit to Islamabad this year to usher in a new chapter in the relationship.
During his meeting with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Tehran Aug 30, Manmohan Singh had conveyed that expeditiously concluding the trial of the 26/11 perpetrators would be the biggest confidence building measure.
During his visit to Islamabad in September, then external affairs minister S.M. Krishna had said the prime minister would visit Pakistan when the atmosphere is "ripe" and there is something "worthwhile".