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No formal dialogue but India and Pakistan in touch

 

No formal dialogue but India and Pakistan in touch

Last Updated on : 2 Jan,2018 | Source : UNT News Desk


New Delhi:nd the bluster, and despite the absence of any form of structured dialogue between them, India and Pakistan continue to be in touch over all niggling outstanding issues like terrorism, ceasefire violations and Kashmir. While the NSAs — Ajit Doval and Nasir Janjua — continue to talk, Pakistan’s high commissioner here Sohail Mahmood is also said to have had several informal meetings, including with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and foreign secretary S Jaishankar, to press for engagement between the two countries. Mahmood also met commerce minister Suresh Prabhu last month to discuss trade and economic ties. In fact, there was a sign of some nascent momentum in ties that the two countries had built in the past few months by facilitating religious tourism and the release of prisoners when the fracas over Kulbhushan Jadhav’s meeting with his kin put paid to it. Swaraj said in Parliament that Pakistan humiliated Jadhav’s mother by forcing her to remove her mangalsutra before meeting her son in Islamabad on December 25. Pakistan, however, denies it, claiming that too much is being read into what was a routine and warranted security check. The silver-lining though has been the fact that Doval chose to meet Janjua in Bangkok a day later, on December 26, despite the unease India felt over what the MEA described as Pakistan’s violation of the “letter and spirit of our understandings” in conducting the Jadhav meeting. Pakistan wants with India an across-the-board engagement that is but a euphemism for starting the comprehensive bilateral dialogue process launched in December 2015. While the Narendra Modi government remains opposed to the idea that the foreign secretary visit Pakistan any time soon to work out the modalities for such a dialogue, it has actively supported the engagement between the NSAs as it feels that this is one way the issue of cross-border terrorism can be addressed. Pakistan, too, has played along as it believes that the NSA dialogue does not preclude it from discussing its “core issue” of Kashmir. For Pakistan, the joint press release of December 2015, issued after the first Doval-Janjua meeting in Bangkok, is of particular significance as it clearly said the discussions covered “peace and security, terrorism, Jammu & Kashmir, and other issues, including tranquility along the LoC”. While Mahmood has had one formal meeting each with Swaraj and Jaishankar, he is said to have met them informally on other occasions. Apart from Jadhav though, the two countries also quickly need to address the issue of increasing ceasefire violations, which have led to significant civilian deaths on both sides. As reported by TOI on December 5, Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif had written to Swaraj seeking a political initiative to bring down the violations as existing mechanisms had failed. Swaraj asserted in her reply that Pakistan alone could check such violations as Indian troops only fired in retaliation and to check infiltration. It’s significant that both sides worked to facilitate religious tourism and release of prisoners. It remains to be seen though if these initiatives remain on track as India last week postponed a visit by 192 Pakistan pilgrims for the urs of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia.


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