ISLAMABAD: The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet on August 25 to re-launch the dialogue process between the two countries.
Both sides confirmed the meeting date following a telephonic conversation between the two foreign secretaries. The development raises the prospects of the resumption of dialogue process between the neighbouring states to cover all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh spoke to Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry over the telephone, Pakistan Foreign Office said on Wednesday. During the conversation, it was agreed that the two foreign secretaries would meet in Islamabad on August 25 to carry forward the dialogue process, it said in a statement.
“In keeping with the vision of the two prime ministers to improve and establish good neighbourly relations, the foreign secretaries agreed that the dialogue process between the two countries should be result-oriented,” the FO said. Apparently, the development is marked with a major breakthrough on the diplomatic front in the backdrop of looming hostility that has lately prevailed between the two South Asian neighbours following reported skirmishes at the Line of Control (LoC) whereby both the sides have accused one another of fatally targeting their respective soldiers and civilians.
Earlier on Monday, Pakistan decided to release 57 Indian fishing boats that belonged to those 150 fishermen who were released by Islamabad this May. According to an FO official, the move helped melt the ice of hostility that lately prevailed due to tense LoC situation. “It appeared that the hostility was looming before we played it wise and decided to hand over the fishing boats to New Delhi, as good will gesture. It worked,” the diplomatic source claimed.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went to New Delhi on a two-day visit from May 11-12 to attend Indian PM Narendra Modi’s oath-taking ceremony. The visit followed exchange of reiterations from both sides to continue the dialogue process for the resolution of pending disputes. The two sides had decided then to hold a foreign secretaries-level meeting, the dates of which were since been discussed. The two premiers have also exchanged personal gifts and greetings coupled with mutual praises for one another along with releasing prisoners detained in the jails at respective sides of the border.
But, last Thursday, Pakistan rejected any pre-conditions for dialogue with India over Kashmir and urged the neighbouring country to take to task the terrorists behind the Samjhota Express incident. “You cannot have dialogue and at the same time impose pre-conditions,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam had told a weekly press briefing. “I am not saying that we want to hold up progress on one because of the other. But we do expect that Pakistanis who have been victims of terrorists would also get justice.”
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