ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – Pakistan has raised concerns with India over the neighbour’s violation of the ceasefire agreed in 2003, and involvement in strife-stricken Balochistan and Tribal Areas.
“We have asked India to operationalise the available channels, such as flag meetings, to avoid violations at the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary,” Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry told a group of reporters following his meeting with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyan Jaishankar who touched down in Islamabad Tuesday morning.
During his two-day ‘SAARC Yatra’, the top Indian diplomat is scheduled to discuss the upcoming regional summit and other issues between the two countries.
“Pakistan has reaffirmed its commitment to follow the ceasefire treaty that was agreed in 2003 between the two countries,” Chaudhry said after the hours-long meeting.
In response to a media query, he said, “Although it cannot be taken as proper resumption of the talks process, we did discuss the various issues that would help achieve an advancement.”
The Indian side has been informed about Pakistan’s concerns over Indian involvement in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas and Balochistan, he said, adding, “We also exhorted India to exchange the progress on investigations into the Samjhota Express incident.”
Chaudhry, to another question, explained that the Indian foreign secretary was on his exploration visit of the whole region, but this meeting has, at least, helped the either side discuss the deposed issues.
The foreign secretary told the media that the two sides have agreed to strengthen their friendly relations by promoting peace along the border, enhancing economic cooperation, and widening people-to-people contact as well as friendly exchanges.
When asked about the next round of peace talks to arrive at a conclusion, Aizaz Chaudhry said, “We have not yet decided about the next meeting where we discuss the bilateral ties.”
He further said the two nuclear powers have agreed to promote ‘religious tourism’ in order to discourage the hostile attempts aimed at derailing the peace process.
About the upcoming regional summit, Chaudhry said Pakistan wanted enhanced cooperation among the SAARC countries and was strongly committed to eradicate terrorist elements.
Earlier, Indian foreign secretary termed the meeting as ‘constructive and positive’, saying, “We agreed to work together, find common grounds and narrow the differences.” Jaishankar demanded the Pakistani government take Mumbai attacks to its logical conclusion.
“Pakistan will be the next South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) host and that India would like to work with Pakistan to help SAARC achieve its potential,” he went on to say.
According to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Kashmir, Siachen, and Sir Creek were also on the agenda.
The Indian foreign secretary meanwhile called on Prime Minister Nawaz Shrif and delivered him a letter from his Indian counterpart, Narendar Modi. Matters pertaining to bilateral relations and regional security came under discussion, according to reports.
He was accompanied by the Indian high commissioner and members of his delegation. Besides Aizaz Chaudhry, PM’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi were also present on the occasion.
Pakistan and India had last held the formal round of talks on September 8, 2012 which saw the then Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar coming to table with her Indian counterpart SM Krishna.
Since then, efforts were made several times to hold the next round of talks but in vain.
Meanwhile, former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar summed up the Indian foreign secretary’s visit as “talks about talks”.
“The current talks are held under the shrouds of the ‘Saarc Yatra’ and are largely unhelpful to the dialogue process.”
“Look at the irony, in 67 years, we cannot even agree on what kind of dialogue to hold,” the former foreign minister said.
“Narendra Modi’s government has been overly cautious about India-Pakistan relations. To the extent of being scared,” Khar said.
“In the past one year, Modi’s government has only given in to the constituency of hate mongers and they have encouraged an environment of hostility.”