Pakistan, India NSAs held covert talks in Bangkok

Published: December 31, 2017
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National Security Advisor Lt- General (retd) Nasir Khan Janjua and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. PHOTO: FILE

National Security Advisor Lt- General (retd) Nasir Khan Janjua and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Amid simmering tensions, national security advisers (NSAs) of Pakistan and India reportedly met in Bangkok last week in an attempt to arrest a downward slide in ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

However, both the sides were tightlipped and refused to confirm or deny reports that appeared in the Indian media that Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval held secret talks in the Thai capital on December 26.

Despite repeated attempts, the NSA and the Foreign Office spokesperson could not be reached to confirm the development.

The meeting came just a day after Indian convicted spy Kulbhushan Jadhav met his mother and wife in Islamabad. The meeting, however, led to a blame-game between the two countries, with India accusing Pakistan of violating the ground rules.

Islamabad denied the charges and insisted that its humanitarian gesture should have been acknowledged.

The Indian Express reported that the venue and date of the meeting between the two NSAs were not linked to “Pakistan’s treatment of Jadhav’s wife and mother”.

It had been decided between the two sides earlier this month, and it was, as sources described it, a pre-scheduled meeting, the report claimed.

Besides the offices of the NSA, the newspaper indicated that the top hierarchy of the foreign ministries of the two countries was also in the loop about the meeting.

The two security wizards are thought to have maintained contacts through ‘back channels’ despite a continued slide in bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

This was not the first time that the two top officials had met at a neutral venue. In December 2015, they also held talks in Bangkok as part of efforts to resume their stalled peace process.

Their meeting, which was officially confirmed by the two sides, eventually led to the announcement of resumption of bilateral dialogue, leading Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to visit Islamabad a few days later.

However, officials this time are not hopeful of any major breakthrough given the current level of hostilities between the two countries.

Pakistan, nevertheless, has been trying to bring some semblance of normalcy along the Line of Control (LoC) which saw worst violence in 2017.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif recently wrote a letter to his Indian counterpart seeking political intervention from the top by the two sides to reduce border tensions.

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