ISLAMABAD: Indian High Commissioner to Pakis­tan Gautam Bambawale has stressed the need for providing an environment conducive for the bilateral dialogue process to go ahead.

“The dialogue can start as soon as the atmosphere improves,” he told journalists after attending a trade-related event here on Monday.

He said national security advisers and foreign secretaries of the two countries had spoken to each other on the issue of rescheduling foreign secretaries’ meeting but no date had yet been decided.

“Both national security advisers and the two foreign secretaries are in touch and are looking at when talks can take place,” said Mr Bambawale, who presented his credentials to President Mamnoon Hussain last week.

Both foreign secretaries trying to fix date for dialogue

The foreign secretaries were to meet on Jan 15 for deciding the timetable and modalities of the dialogue process that the two neighbours had agreed to resume under the new tag of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue after a pause of over two years, but the meeting was postponed amid Indian allegations that Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad was behind the Pathankot attack.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had pledged to probe the Indian allegations and constituted a special investigation team for the purpose, besides launching a crackdown on the militant group accused of involvement in the attack. Jaish chief Masood Azhar was, meanwhile, taken into ‘protective custody’.

The government is yet to report progress made by the investigation team.

The Pakistan government had also indicated that it needed additional proofs from India about Jaish’s involvement.

Pathankot investigation, Mr Bambawale said, was being discussed between the two security advisers.

The envoy suggested that India and Pakistan should increase bilateral trade which would give confidence in addition to helping them address other outstanding issues.

“I believe economic interaction between the two countries should be increased and every possible effort should be made in this regard.”

For enhancing trade volume, he said, the visa regime would have to be normalised and exhibitions held.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2016