ISLAMABAD: Three days after Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz proposed to India a dedicated dialogue on Kashmir, Pakistan on Monday moved ahead by inviting the Indian foreign secretary to visit Islamabad for talks on the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir.
Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry met Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale here and handed him a letter addressed to Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian foreign secretary, inviting him to visit Pakistan for talks on the Kashmir dispute that has been the main bone of contention between the two nations.
The letter highlighted the international obligation of both countries to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.
The latest move came despite the Independence Day speech of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he spoke about alleged human rights abuses in Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The meeting of the foreign secretary with the Indian high commissioner, which was held in the afternoon, shows that Pakistan will not allow Delhi to divert the world attention from the issue of Kashmir.
On Aug 12, Mr Aziz had offered a dedicated dialogue to India on Kashmir and observed that India’s policy of not engaging in a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan was not conducive for peace in South Asia.
While he had also offered India to sign a bilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, Monday’s Foreign Office statement suggested that the letter to the Indian foreign secretary did not have any mention of this offer.
Mr Aziz’s announcement followed this month’s envoys conference in Islamabad that discussed key foreign policy challenges. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was reported to have told the conference that resolution of bilateral disputes through dialogue was the need of the hour for sustainable peace in the region and its development. He made it clear that the resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people of the region and UN resolutions was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
The dialogue between India and Pakistan has been suspended since 2014. An agreement on reviving the peace talks, which was reached during PM Modi’s surprise stopover in Lahore last December, could not materialise because of the Pathankot airbase attack.
Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2016