UFA (Russia): Pakistan and India agreed on Friday to hold talks on all issues, including terrorism, as their leaders met here on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.
The agreement came as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi held an hour-long meeting in a bid to restart the stalled peace process.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security Sartaj Aziz told reporters that the meeting was held in “very good atmosphere” as both sides believed that peace in the region was vital for progress. He said like Prime Minister Sharif, Mr Modi also believed in combating poverty, instead of fighting each other.
Indian PM accepts invitation to attend Saarc summit in Islamabad next year
He, however, said the first priority was to lessen tensions on the Line of Control and the two sides agreed to activate the mechanism of meetings between the Indian Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers.
Mr Aziz said that both leaders were of the opinion that for lasting peace the way forward was to address the outstanding issues like Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek. Otherwise, it would not be possible to ensure lasting peace.
The two sides also agreed to take up these issues under the backchannel Track-II mechanism for better understanding of each other’s point of view.
Mr Aziz said the two leaders also agreed that meetings of the two countries’ national security advisers should be held to address concerns and apprehensions of each side to allay misunderstandings.
He described the meeting “as very useful in lessening tension” and for better understanding of each other’s point of view which, he said, could lead to further progress in the days ahead.
INVITATION: Prime Minister Modi accepted Prime Minister Sharif’s invitation to attend the Saarc Summit in Islamabad next year, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry told reporters at a joint press conference along with Indian External Affairs Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, after the meeting.
The secretaries read out a prepared statement, without taking any question.
Mr Chaudhry said the “meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere” and the prime ministers exchanged views on issues of bilateral and regional interest. The two leaders agreed that India and Pakistan had a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development.
“To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues. Both leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each to eliminate this menace from South Asia,” he added.
Without giving a timeframe, the Indian external affairs secretary said the two leaders agreed that their national security advisers would meet in New Delhi to discuss all issues related to terrorism. The two sides, according to him, also agreed on an early meeting of directors general of the Indian Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers to be followed by a meeting of the directors general of military operations (DGMOs), release of fishermen along with their boats detained in each other’s country over border violation within 15 days, and to work on a mechanism for facilitating religious tourism.
Mr Jaishankar said both sides agreed to discuss ways of expediting the Mumbai case trial, including additional information like providing voice samples.
Adviser Sartaj Aziz and PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi were present during the Sharif-Modi meeting. The Indian delegation included National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Earlier, the two prime ministers warmly shook hands and posed for a photograph before proceeding for talks.
Their last handshake was at Kathmandu in November last year on the sidelines of the Saarc Summit that came after several incidents of firing along the Line of Control, leading to the cancellation of secretary-level talks. The last structured meeting between the two prime ministers was held in May last year.
A Foreign Office spokesman earlier told reporters in Islamabad that the meeting was a positive development. He expressed the hope that it would have a positive impact on bilateral relations.
He said the international community was also interested in improvement of relations between Pakistan and India because it would be of benefit not only to the peoples of the two countries but also to the entire region.
Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2015