WASHINGTON: Pakistan and India have revived back-channel talks following a meeting between their prime ministers in New Delhi last month, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani said on Tuesday.
He said that Pakistan desired an uninterrupted peace process with India that would address the causes of all outstanding disputes and “not just symptoms”.
Addressing a US think-tank in Washington, Mr Jilani said Pakistan also was keen on improving trade and economic relations with its larger neighbour as it believed that this could bring prosperity to the entire region.
The ambassador disclosed that the May 26 meeting between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi led to the reopening of “back-channel” talks and now foreign secretaries of the two countries would meet shortly to resume the stalled peace process.
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The back-channel talks, he hoped, would enable the two sides to discuss all issues, including terrorism and Islamabad’s concerns regarding Indian involvement in stoking unrest in Balochistan.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif travelled to New Delhi last month to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.—AFP photo
“There have been proposals to develop a serious mechanism on terrorism,” he said, while noting that the revival of the peace process would be “a first step towards creating a cooperative and tension-free relationship between the two countries”.
Mr Jilani said he was confident that Prime Minister Sharif’s proposal for establishing a regular mechanism for talks between the Pakistani and Indian national security advisers would be taken up positively.
The proposal for NSA-level talks was proposed first by Mr Sharif when he met the then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in New York last September.
Mr Jilani, who was Pakistan’s foreign secretary during that period, said the Pakistani delegation returned from those talks with the impression that “it was taken positively by the Indian side. It remains on the table and when the dialogue process starts, we will revisit the same proposal”.
He noted that trade between the two countries had increased gradually and might touch $ 5 billion mark by 2015.
The ambassador also noted a marked improvement in Pakistan-US relations and said the Pakistani government was also working for improving its relations with both India and Afghanistan as well as with other neighbours.
Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2014