Dialogue with Pakistan not suspended: India

Says it will decide at ‘appropriate time’ on formal requests for investigators to visit Islamabad

News Desk April 23, 2016
File photo of a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian premier Narendra Modi. PHOTO: AFP

In a surprising turnaround, New Delhi on Friday said the stalled dialogue process with Islamabad was not ‘suspended’, adding that it would decide the ‘appropriate time’ for sending its investigators to Pakistan.

During his weekly briefing in New Delhi, the spokesperson for India’s external affairs ministry, Vikas Swarup, said conversations between the two neighbours were continuing at various levels, including at the prime ministerial-level, The Hindustan Times reported.

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“Obviously, after the Pathankot terror attack, the focus of conversations was on investigation of that particular attack. However, other aspects of the relationship have also been discussed. I have made statements and so has my Pakistani counterpart. This should give you clarity that the dialogue process has not been suspended,” Swarup said.

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit had said talks between the two sides was seemingly suspended. It followed similar comments from the Indian high commissioner who suggested the dialogue process was blocked.

But Swarup’s counterpart in Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria has insisted in recent weeks that the door for dialogue with India was not closed.

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Pathankot investigations

Swarup also made a departure from India’s stance on its investigators visiting Pakistan, stating that a decision will be made at the ‘appropriate time’.

“The [Pathankot attack] investigations are ongoing in both countries. We will consider the next step [formal request to Islamabad] at an appropriate time,” he said. He added that the visit of Pakistan’s JIT was held in a very constructive and cooperative environment though they have not heard about any progress it had made in investigations.

India also asked Pakistan to ensure the safety, security and wellbeing of its citizens currently lodged in Pakistani jails in the wake of alleged Indian spy Kirpal Singh’s demise at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd,  2016.