Will India and Pakistan finally have their long overdue foreign secretary talks this month? Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Friday called India high commissioner Gautam Bambawale and handed him an invite for India’s foreign secretary S. Jaishankar to visit Islamabad by the end of the month for talks.
The letter was in response to Jaishankar’s letter to Islamabad conveyed on August 17, in which he expressed his willingness to Islamabad’s earlier invite for the talks. Jaishankar has written that the discussions should focus on pressing aspects of Jammu and Kashmir which include
♦ Cessation of cross border terrorism by Pakistan
♦ Ending incitement to violence and terrorism from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir
♦ Detaining and prosecuting internationally recognised Pakistani terrorist leaders
♦ Closing down of Pakistani terrorist camps
♦ Denying safe haven to terrorists in Pakistan who have escaped Indian law.
Islamabad’s invite, while still mentioning the K word, has an entirely different perspective. It starts by inviting the foreign secretary with a view to finding a fair and just solution to the Kashmir dispute as per United Nations Security Council resolutions. It, however, calls for putting an immediate end to “human rights violations” against the people of Indian occupied Kashmir and for providing medical facilities to the injured.
The invite and responses have been going on all this week. India now has to respond to this latest development.
It may be recalled that foreign secretary talks were proposed last year to take forward the stitching of relations begun by Prime minister Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Nawaz Sharief. However, within days, Pakistani terrorists attacked Pathankot air force base and relations plummeted. The talks were never officially cancelled, but rescheduled, with the ministry of external affairs repeatedly saying they would be held in the near future, but never giving the date.