ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India on Tuesday pledged cooperation to improve their bilateral relations and defuse the tension by keeping the diplomatic channels intact and following the policy of ceasefire at the Line of Control (LoC), in a rare agreement that is deciphered as a significant move towards the resumption of stalled dialogue process, amidst the arrival of a top Indian diplomat on a two-day visit here.
Seen as a significant confidence-building measure towards the resumption of stalled peace process between the two South Asian neighbours, the visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar saw his reportedly unscheduled meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz and the PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, in addition to meeting Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. The Indian diplomat shared with Prime Minister Nawaz a letter by Prime Minister Narendra Modi wherein he expressed his desire for the resumption of dialogue process between the two countries.
Addressing a press conference after his detailed meeting with the Indian counterpart, Aizaz Chaudhry said Pakistan formally took up with India the contentious issues, including Indian involvement in unrest in Balochistan and terrorism in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as well as stalled probe into Samjhota Express. In his brief interaction with media at the FO, the Indian foreign secretary said he took up the issue of Mumbai attacks probe and India’s stance regarding LoC violations, with the Pakistani side.
“Pakistan is hosting SAARC and India would extend its assistance to make (this event) productive for all. Both sides have agreed to work in cooperation. We have stressed that diffusion in tension between both sides is the need of the hour,” he said. According to Pakistani foreign secretary, both sides recognised that the two countries needed to work together to address mutual concerns and make efforts to promote peace and development. He said that Pakistan was desirous of cooperation from its neighbours, in particular. “Indian side raised its concerns. We also raised the issue of Samjhota Express terrorist attack and Indian involvement in FATA and Balochistan,” the foreign secretary said without elaborating on the concerns the Indian diplomat shared.
“The spirit of friendship and cooperation should guide the two countries,” he responded to a query at the media briefing. The bilateral and regional issues of mutual concern and common interest were part of the discussions, Chaudhry said “I told my Indian counterpart that the leadership and people of Pakistan were deeply attached to the cause of Jammu & Kashmir and we need to make a concerted effort to resolve this dispute and indeed other disputes like Siachen, Sir Creek and water issues that could also be addressed through dialogue.” Aizaz Chaudhry said the importance of maintaining dialogue was also stressed.
“Overall, the visit provided an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations and to understand each other’s concerns and interests. It was agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences.” Asked whether Kashmiri Hurriyat leadership was consulted regarding the Indian diplomat’s visit here given that New Delhi cancelled the scheduled Pak-India foreign secretaries-level talks last August after Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit met Hurriyat leaders, Aizaz Chaudhry said “We do hold consultations with Kashmiri leadership regularly.”