After months of speculation and drift in bilateral ties, the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan met in the Indian capital to make yet another attempt to start comprehensive bilateral dialogue, which has been derailed by the Pathankot terror attacks.
India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar met his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary at the South Block, the seat of India’s external affairs ministry, on April 26, ahead of the Heart of Asia Conference on Afghanistan.
“Pakistan looks forward to active participation in the forthcoming ‘Senior Officials Meeting of the Heart of Asia’ process reflecting our commitment to efforts for promoting long term peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan delegation will also hold bilateral meetings with other leading delegations attending the meeting,” said a statement released by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The main aim of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference is to chalk out a counter terror security and economic development path for the strife-torn Afghanistan. The fifth Heart of Asia conference was chaired by Islamabad in December 2015. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden and historic stop-over at Lahore in December 2015 and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attending the Islamabad conference, the two countries looked well on course to take the dialogue forward. However, the Pathankot terror attacks stalled the dialogue process.
Terror will remain the focus of talks for India, as Mr Jaishankar said recently. The progress made on the Pathankot investigations and action taken since visit of Pakistan JIT team to Pathankot will also be taken up by India. India’s proposal of a visit of the NIA team to Pakistan will be on the agenda. From the Pakistan side, the issue of arrests of alleged Indian spies in its territory is likely to be raised. The Kashmir issue is also likely to find a mention due to the ongoing ferment in the Valley.
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