Bilateral ties: India says no to early start of dialogue

Officials say New Delhi has signalled talks are not possible until Pathankot probe issues are sorted out

Kamran Yousaf May 06, 2016
Officials say New Delhi has signalled talks are not possible until Pathankot probe issues are sorted out. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: India has informed Pakistan that there is no possibility of an early scheduling of key foreign secretary-level talks, dimming hopes for the start of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue in the near future, official sources said on Friday.

The foreign secretaries  of India and Pakistan were to meet in mid-January in Islamabad but had to call off their talks in the aftermath of the Pathankot airbase attack. The two countries at the time agreed to convene the meeting in a 'very near future.' However, since then the two sides have been struggling to go ahead with the peace process.

Long-term strategy for Pakistan-India relations

Frustrated by India's lukewarm response, Pakistan recently made a fresh attempt proposing India to give a timeframe for the foreign secretaries meeting to work out a roadmap for the comprehensive bilateral dialogue.

The proposal to start the dialogue at the earliest was given by Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry during a meeting with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in New Delhi on April 26 at the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan. Aizaz reminded Jaishankar that his visit to Islamabad was due as part of the understanding reached between the two countries in December last year.

Official sources said the Indian foreign secretary informed his Pakistani counterpart that he would commit to any date after consultation with higher authorities. Now, according to sources, the Indian external affairs ministry through diplomatic channels told the Pakistani Foreign Office that foreign secretary-level talks are not possible until some of the issues related to Pathankot investigations are sorted out first.

Long-term strategy for Pakistan-India relations

The Indian reluctance is attributed to the current political environment within the country which is not in favour of any rapprochement with Pakistan following the Pathankot airbase attack.

During the foreign secretaries’ meeting in New Delhi, India made its concerns public by saying that Pakistan could not be in denial on the impact of bilateral relationship.

Pakistan publicly admitted that there was no major breakthrough achieved during the recent foreign secretaries meeting, as India was unwilling to give any date for the resumption of talks.

Despite statement, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz hoped of a positive movement in coming weeks as according to him India principally in agreement with Pakistan on the structured bilateral dialogue.

Referring to the Indian concerns on the Pathankot probe, the adviser said issues related to terrorism could be discussed under the comprehensive bilateral dialogue as it did provide an ‘institutionalised mechanism’ to discuss such matters along with other crunch questions between the two countries.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2016.


Sam | 6 years ago | Reply Keep talking for another 4-5 decades
Feroz | 6 years ago | Reply What a waste of time and effort. The sooner this farce is ended, the better for all. India is fully aware that it any concession on talks would be incentivizing and rewarding Pakistani policies on use of non State actors. India will get stronger with each passing day, sees no need to hurry as gap between the two countries increases rapidly. Thinktanks in Pakistan need to wake up from slumber and come up with better ideas and strategies, before the train leaves the station.
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