- South Asian leaders could also meet US President Obama
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will most likely meet his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh next month in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s meeting, diplomatic sources said while hinting at the possibility of a trilateral meeting of the Pakistani and Indian leaders with President Barack Obama to discuss the Indo-Pak standoff, as well as the regional situation.
“Owing to intense back channel diplomacy by the US, there is all likelihood that the leaders of the two countries will be meeting next month in New York,” said a source on condition of anonymity.
He said the ongoing tensions between the nuclear arch rivals on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir had earlier left the proposed meeting between Pakistani and Indian prime ministers in jeopardy.
However, diplomatic efforts on part of Washington aimed at lowering tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi were likely to bear fruit and Nawaz-Manmohan meeting was very likely to take place on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly’s annual summit, which will commence on September 24.
The Obama administration is said to be worried over the Indo-Pak tensions as it sees this standoff between Islamabad and New Delhi harmful and damaging to its strategy for pulling out of troops from Afghanistan.
The US officials view that with Pakistan focused on its border with India owing to the current standoff, its western border with Afghanistan was likely to be neglected and that would damage the US exit strategy for Afghanistan.
Several Pakistani soldiers have been killed or injured in the recent cross LoC firing by the Indian military, which also blames Pakistani Army for the violation of ceasefire agreement on LoC and killing of its troops.
Before the rising of tensions on the Line of Control, both states were working on the schedule of peace dialogue and meetings between senior officials from Islamabad and New Delhi on various conflicting matters such as Kashmir, peace and security, Siachen and Sir Creek.
However, the LoC skirmishes has derailed the process of dialogue and diplomatic circles here believe that a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz and his Indian counterpart could not only help in the lessening of tensions, but also likely to put the process of Indo-Pak negotiations back on the track.
Another source, who asked not to be named, said not only the Nawaz-Manmohan meeting was likely to take place in New York but another very important meeting of the two leaders with the US president could also take place.
However, he hastened to add that the possibility of trilateral meeting had been looked into and it was not a finalised issue.
“This trilateral meeting has been looked into but we can’t say for sure if it will take place. If it did happen, it would help a lot in lowering of tensions between the South Asian neighbours,” the source said.