Pakistan and India back to business

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  • Aizaz Chaudhry and Indian counterpart S Jaishankar discuss regional connectivity, SAARC issues, evolve underlying understanding on bilateral matters
  • As Chaudhry assures he brought all important issues to India’s notice, Jaishankar says India wants to work with Pakistan on next SAARC summit

 

Speaking at a press conference about his meeting with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on Tuesday, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said that all issues of concern between India and Pakistan were discussed, ranging from India’s interference in Balochistan, Samjhota Express case and the Line of Control (LoC) ceasefire violations.

“We both have an understanding to fight and end terrorism. We are working to find a common ground from where we can start our joint efforts. Terrorism is not only Pakistan’s concern, but both countries are equally affected by it. We also raised the issue of delay in the Samjhota Express investigation. No investigation details on the incident have been shared with us by India,” he said, adding that the letter sent by Indian Prime Minister Modi via Jaishankar had been handed over to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Pakistani official made it clear that the Indian foreign secretary had come to Pakistan on directives of Modi, who has asked him to visit all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries. He said the overall tone of the meeting was positive and both countries are ready to reflect on matters of importance to them.

When asked whether the issue of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi came under discussion, Chaudhry said that there was not enough time to go into every issue’s detail.

MEET THE FOREIGN SECY:

Earlier during the day, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar met Chaudhry following his arrival in Pakistan on a two-day official visit. Accompanied by a delegation of diplomats, Jaishankar was welcomed by officials from the Foreign Ministry as well as those from the Indian High Commission.

Senior officials from both sides are assisting in the talks which are the first since New Delhi called them off last year.

During the meeting, both foreign secretaries realised that peaceful dialogue is the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues.

Chaudhry drew the Indian secretary’s attention to the recent tensions at the LoC and Working Boundary while Jaishankar said that he was happy to be visiting Pakistan and was looking forward to having substantial and meaningful negotiations with Pakistani officials.

The primary agenda for the secretaries’ meeting was about promoting regional connectivity and trade even though both sides have an understanding about discussing bilateral matters. Both sides discussed ideas and initiatives to take SAARC forward.

While briefly talking to media representatives, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam termed the meeting as an ice breaker and said all issues between Pakistan and India came under discussion.

SAARC ALL THE WAY:

Addressing the reporters following the meeting, the India foreign secretary said that Pakistan will chair the next SAARC conference and India would like to work with Pakistan to help SAARC achieve its potential.

“During talks with the Pakistani foreign secretary, I reiterated India’s concerns on cross border terrorism, including the Mumbai case,” Jaishankar told reporters while reading out a written statement.

“I conveyed the expectations of our leadership on SAARC and their determination to forge a cooperative relationship with all our neighbours. Naturally, my visit provided an opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations and we engaged on each other’s concerns and interests in an open manner,” Jaishankar said, adding that both sides have agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences as ensuring peace and tranquillity on the border was vital.

“Our talks were held in a constructive and positive atmosphere,” the Indian official elaborated.

MEET THE PREMIER:

Moreover, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House and discussed matters related to SAARC and bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

Underlining the importance of enhanced cooperation among SAARC member states, PM Sharif welcomed the meeting between the two foreign secretaries in Islamabad and hoped that process would continue.

MEET THE ADVISERS:

On the first day of his two-day visit to Pakistan, the Indian foreign secretary also met Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatimi and discussed bilateral relations and the security situation in South Asia.

Islamabad is the third stop in Jaishankar’s SAARC trip that began on Sunday. He earlier visited Bhutan and Bangladesh. He will travel to Kabul from here on Wednesday.

The visit is taking place almost seven months after Delhi cancelled the last planned secretaries’ dialogue in August on the pretext that Pakistani High Commissioner in Delhi Abdul Basit had consulted Kashmiri leaders.

Both sides are to hold what officials have been describing as “talks for talks” (dialogue on resuming suspended talks).

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