Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to resume composite dialogue between the rival neighbours.
At his weekly press briefing, foreign office spokesperson Aizaz Chaudhry said the special envoy of the prime minister, Shaharyar M Khan, met the Indian premier on Friday and delivered a letter on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz in this regard.
According to a statement issued by Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi, the letter also conveyed Pakistan’s ‘sincere desire’ to move forward with improving relations with India.
“These sentiments were warmly reciprocated by Singh,” the statement added.
The envoy also met Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on Friday.
Talking to reporters, Chaudhry said Shaharyar – who served as Pakistan’s foreign secretary under Nawaz’s first government in 1990 – has been appointed as a special envoy by Prime Minister Nawaz to conduct ‘Track II’ or backchannel diplomacy with India. He added that Track-II diplomacy had always been a part of the Pakistan-India peace process.
The two countries have used Track-II diplomacy – which refers to negotiations taking place away from public glare – in the past to resolve longstanding disputes. The 2003 ceasefire agreement across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, for instance, is believed to have been reached through Track-II diplomacy.
Meanwhile, responding to a question regarding reports of Indian paramilitary personnel aiding militants seeking to enter Pakistan, the spokesperson said India and Pakistan have a border management mechanism in place and contact each other when the need arises. He added, however, that Islamabad expects its policy of good neighbourly relations would be reciprocated by New Delhi.
Coup in Egypt
Talking about the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, Chaudhry said Pakistan was closely following the events in Egypt and hoped that the country will be able to deal with its affairs in a manner that ‘ensures democracy and political stability.’
Kerry’s visit and drone strikes
The spokesman said US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Pakistan towards the end of this month. He added that the exact dates of the visit were being finalised at the moment.
Talking about US drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas, Chaudhry said the campaign constitutes a breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty and was counter-productive to the fight against terror. He added that the issue has been taken up with the US and would be taken up again.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2013.