Indo-Pak Meeting,Foreign secretaries at One Place,After Pathankot attack
Pakistan’s foreign secretary will visit New Delhi for the first time since the Narendra Modi government came to power, with the two countries using the tried and tested platform of a multilateral event to resurrect stalled peace talks.
Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry will meet foreign secretary S. Jaishankar in the afternoon on the margins of the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan’s future at Hyderabad House, senior officials from both nations confirmed. Chaudhry will arrive in New Delhi in the morning and fly back at night.
In their first formal bilateral meeting after Pathankot attack, Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan on Tuesday held talks focusing on a range of sticky issues including probe into the strike and Kashmir, which Pakistani side asserted was the “core issue”.
Jaishankar and Chaudhry are expected to discuss the investigations into the Pathankot case, and the possibility of reviving the agenda they were to take up in January. But neither Indian nor Pakistani officials were willing to conjecture on the meeting’s outcomes.
The officials did concede, though, the urgency felt by both sides for a meeting amid increasing signals that a peace process launched personally by Prime Ministers Modi and Nawaz Sharif was falling off the rails irretrievably, and embarrassingly.
“In line with our PM’s vision of peaceful neighborhood, FS underscored Pakistan’s commitment to have friendly relations with all its neighbors/India. All outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute were discussed,” the Pakistan High Commission here said.
India has been pressing for action against terrorists responsible for the audacious attack on the IAF base, to take the talks forward.
This is also the first time the two foreign secretaries are meeting after the announcement of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue(CBD) by the Foreign Ministers in Islamabad last December. The two secretaries had a informal brief interaction during a SAARC meeting in Nepal in March this year.
Although India allowed a joint investigation team from Pakistan to visit the Pathankot airbase in Punjab, Islamabad has since indicated reluctance to allow a reciprocal visit by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).The NIA is keen to question members of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, an internationally recognised terrorist group. India is convinced that Jaish was behind the Pathankot attack.
India has been pressing for action against terrorists responsible for the audacious attack on the Indian Air Force base, to take the talks forward.
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Earlier this month, Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit had said that bilateral talks between the two sides stood “suspended”, his comment coming amid a row over Pakistan arresting an alleged Indian spy from its border with Iran.
Pakistan claims that former navy officer Kulbhushan Yadav has confessed to working for the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s external espionage agency. India has denied any link between Yadav and the government and insisted that he was working in Iran as a private businessman
Jaishankar was scheduled to travel to Islamabad to hold talks with Chaudhary on January 15 but both the countries had announced deferment of the talks with “mutual consent” in the wake of the Pathankot attack.
Todays’s meeting came in the backdrop of Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s recent comments that the bilateral peace process was suspended, evoking a sharp reaction by Indian side.
India has been maintaining that communication channels were on at various levels but also made it clear it wants to see action on terror and Pathankot first before the dialogue could be resumed.
Pakistan Announced for Meeting when India is Ready
Pakistan’s foreign ministry has repeatedly insisted over the past fortnight that the “door” for talks was still open and that Basit had been misunderstood.
“The hype created by the Indian media over Mr Basit’s remarks was neither warranted nor required,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Mohammed Nafees Zakaria, said last week. “Pakistan will be ready to talk when India is ready.”
Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup too insisted last week that the dialogue with Pakistan was “certainly not suspended”.The decision to meet on the margins of a multilateral event allows both sides to underplay the hype that invariably surrounds an India-Pakistan dialogue, and represents a continuation of a strategy the two countries have frequently used in the past.
When the policy appeared headed nowhere in early 2015, Modi sent Jaishankar on ayatra to Islamabad and other South Asian capitals. It paved the way for a decision to hold a meeting between the two countries’ national security advisers last August in New Delhi.
That meeting was called off amid bickering over the agenda, but when Modi wanted to revive peace talks, he again chose a multilateral platform – the Paris climate change conclave last December to meet Sharif.
At Present Kulbushan Jadev and expressed serious concern over RAW’s alleged involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi.He expressed confidence that building on the goodwill generated by the recent high level contacts, the two countries should remain committed to a sustained, meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process.In this spirit, the foreign secretary underscored the need for early commencement of comprehensive dialogue for which the Indian foreign secretary’s visit to Pakistan is due.
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