The Indian foreign secretary’s visit to Pakistan last week marked the first high-level meeting since talks broke down between the two countries last year
Pakistan and India last week agreed to end the tension on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary and narrow down the differences in “a spirit of friendship and cooperation,” reported veteran reporter Mariana Baabar in The News after the meeting of Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.
The Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson termed the visit “an ice-breaking development”.
Jaishankar called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Adviser to PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi after one-on-one and delegation-level talks. This was the first interaction between the two sides after 2012.
The Indian foreign secretary handed over a letter from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nawaz Sharif. Sharif welcomed the meeting between the two foreign secretaries in Islamabad and hoped that the process would continue. He underlined the importance of enhanced cooperation among the Saarc member states.
Discussions held at the Foreign Office focused on bilateral and regional issues, including like Jammu and Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen Glacier, water issues, tension at the LoC and Working Boundary and terrorism.
Jaishankar said that the talks were held in a constructive and positive atmosphere, where he reiterated India’s concerns on cross border terrorism, including on the Mumbai case and emphasised that ensuring peace and tranquillity on the border was vital.
“We engaged on each other’s concerns and interests in an open manner. We agreed to work together to find a common ground and narrow down the differences,” Jaishankar told the media.
Aizaz Chaudhry, together with High Commissioner Abdul Basit and spokesperson Tasneem Aslam, said that terrorism was a threat not only to Pakistan and India but for the whole region.
“In Pakistan, there is a strong commitment to eradicate this threat. While India raised its own concerns, we also raised the issue of Samjhauta Express and (Indian involvement) in Fata and Balochistan. The spirit of friendship and cooperation should guide us as we want a peaceful neighbourhood,” Chaudhry said. No details of the findings of Samjhauta Express case have yet been shared with Pakistan, he added.
Regarding the continued shelling at the Line of Control and Working Boundary, Chaudhry advised making full use of the existing mechanism of the hotline between the two DGMOs, sector commanders and flag meetings.
Since officially Jaishankar was in town for a meeting on Saarc issues, Pakistan announced that it would host the 19th Saarc Summit to which all Saarc leaders would be invited.
“We discussed ideas and initiatives to take Saarc forward. Pakistan will be the next Saarc Chair and India would like to work with Pakistan to help Saarc achieve its potential,” said Jaishankar.
Pakistan also raised the issue of the need for more people-to-people contacts, including religious tourism, mutually-beneficial trade and discouraging hostile propaganda.