Peace Path: Ex-envoys from Pak, In­dia Lay Stress on More Talks

Though the re­la­tions be­tween the two na­tions have been tur­bu­lent, for­mer high com­mis­sion­ers be­lieve fre­quent talks will im­prove the sit­u­a­tion

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

New Delhi: Eye­ing to chart a new jour­ney in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions that has wit­nessed roller coaster ride for the past seven decades, se­nior diplo­mats from In­dia and Pak­istan who have servedashigh­com­mis­sion­ersineach other’s coun­try on Fri­day sug­gested that the neigh­bours need to en­gage even in try­ing times in­clud­ing dis­cussing is­sues as con­tentious as Khulb­hu­san Jad­hav, an al­leged In­dian agent.

While the Pak­istani es­tab­lish­ment has tried to hype the ar­rest of Jad­hav al­leg­ing that the for­mer In­dian naval of­fi­cer was fo­ment­ing trou­ble in Balochis­tan notwith­stand­ing snub from Iran, for­mer Pak­istani High Com­mis­sion­ers to In­dia Sal­man Bashir and Aziz Ahmed Khan sug­gest­edthatDel­hi­andIs­lam­abad­must hold di­a­logue to ad­dress this is­sue. It may be re­called that the In­dian for­eign sec­re­tary S Jais­hankar had told hisPak­istan­i­coun­ter­par­tonTues­day that Jad­hav was ab­ducted by Islamabad and that no spy agency would ever send its agent on a valid pass­port. Bashir and Khan were speak­ers of a fo­rum where they were joined by yet an­other Pak high com­mis­sioner to In­dia Ashraf Ja­hangir Qazi. The fo­rum, which de­bated In­dia-Pak­istan re­la­tions in the light of Pathankot at­tacks and ar­rest of Jad­hav, also fea­tured three for­mer In­dian high com­mis­sion­ers to Pak­istan SK Lam­bah, Shivshankar Menon and G Parthasarathy. This uniq­ue­fo­rum,which­forthe­first­time ever brought to­gether six envoys of In­dia and Pak­istan at one plat­form, was or­gan­ised by lead­ing public pol­icy body Ananta Aspen Cen­tre.

Parthasarathy, who had served in Pak­istan dur­ing both the Kargil War and in­fa­mous IC-814 hi­jack­ing in­ci­dent, em­pha­sised that al­le­ga­tions against Jad­hav is not bonafide but sup­ported his coun­ter­parts that the two sides should dis­cuss such is­sues. He,how­ever,men­tionedtha­tre­peated at­tempts were made in the past by the Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties to abduct Jad­hav, who ran a busi­ness in Iran.

But this was not the only is­sue that dom­i­nated the dis­course at the fo­rum as for­mer Pak for­eign sec­re­tary Bashir pointed out that reg­u­lar con­tacts be­tween the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sors have pre­vented post- Pathankot sit­u­a­tion from be­com­ing ex­plo­sive and hoped that such con­tacts would help to main­tain en­gage­ment. Both he and Lam­bah agreed that leak­ing of in­for­ma­tion by the Pak­istani side at the very on­set of re­cent Indo-Pak for­eign sec­re­tary di­a­logue looked com­i­cal.

Re­fer­ring to the un­sched­uled visit by PM Naren­dra Modi to Lahore on De­cem­ber 25 last year Menon, who had also served as Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser, noted that this trip was worth its value. “As we look back it was an important step,” the for­mer In­dian for­eign sec­re­tary pointed out.

Lam­bah, who is cred­ited with backchan­nel talks with Pak­istan dur­ing two In­dian PMs, sug­gested for­mula for way for­ward in re­la­tions – keep LoC peace­ful, con­trol cross-bor­der ter­ror and early con­clu­sion of trial of 26/11 and Pathankot at­tacks.

A file photo of for­eign sec­re­taries of In­dia and Pak­istan in New Delhi

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