Rejecting criticism over the sudden resumption of India-Pakistan talks, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that there was no “secrecy” in his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in the NSA talks in Bangkok.
Speaking exclusively to The Hindu newspaper on the sidelines of the groundbreaking ceremony for the TAPI pipeline project in Turkmenistan, Mr. Sharif said the process needed “time and patience.”
“I don’t think there is any secrecy around the process. If we didn’t announce anything in advance, it was by way of precaution,” he said, in his first comments on the talks since he and Mr. Modi met in Paris on November 30.
Nawaz Sharif’s comments come just ahead of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s Parliament briefing on the outcome of the dialogue in the past two weeks. Both in Pakistan and in India, the principal Opposition parties have demanded transparency and questioned the need to have kept the Paris andBangkok meetings a secret. Two days after the NSA talks on December 6, Ms. Swaraj travelled toIslamabad, and after meeting Mr. Sharif and National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, announced the resumption of talks, now called the ‘comprehensive dialogue.’
Foreign Secretaries S. Jaishankar and Aizaz Chaudhry are expected to meet next in Delhi in January to formalise the timetable for Secretary-level talks on various issues.
Recounting the turn of events after Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif met on the sidelines of the climate change conference in Paris, Mr. Sharif called the meeting “very good and very successful.”
“In that short time we were able to agree on the way forward, which led to the NSA meeting [in Bangkok]. And I think the Heart of Asia conference we held in Islamabad gave us the opportunity to take things ahead,” he said.
To another question, Mr. Sharif said: “We have just restarted so it needs time, and you must have patience. Let us hope it goes smoothly.”