After Modi’s stopover in Lahore, India, Pak get down to business
Foreign secretaries of both countries to meet in Islamabad on January 15-16
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise stopover in Pakistan sent the neighbours to the drawing board for their comprehensive bilateral dialogue (CBD) in January that would test the resolve of both sides in improving ties.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chowdhury are likely to meet in Islamabad on January 15 and announce the talks schedule to cover every possible substantive issue between the two countries.
It was India’s turn to host the foreign secretaries, but since the meeting is taking place in Pakistan, it will address a thin red line India had drawn and keep the Hurriyat separatists of Kashmir from gaining an audience with the delegation from Islamabad.
Sources said both sides are keen on high-level interactions between the leaderships of the two countries whenever such meetings are possible, especially on the sidelines of multi-lateral meetings.
The CBD agreed between the two nations during foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan early December has a host of issues on the table, such as peace and security, confidence building measures, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage or Tulbul navigation project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control, humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism. Humanitarian issues and religious tourism are the two additions to the composite dialogue format which India had called off after the Mumbai terror strike in 2008. Modi’s visit to Lahore, 16 days after Swaraj’s trip, has displayed New Delhi’s political intent in ample measures for meaningfully engaging Pakistan.
Indian officials said Pakistan too has agreed to “engage in a meaningful dialogue with India” and they “fully understand” Indian sensitivities, including the need for a speedy conclusion of the trial of culprits in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
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