Masood Azhar, Pathankot, Kashmir Dominate FS-Level Indo-Pak Talks

In the crucial foreign secretary-level talks, India brings up terror again as Pakistan rakes up the Kashmir issue.

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Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar ( right ) with his  Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry before a meeting at  South Block  in New Delhi on Tuesday , 26 April 2016. ( Photo : PTI ) 

The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan on Tuesday held bilateral talks focusing on a range of sticky issues. This was the first such formal meeting between the two top diplomats after talks were deferred in January following the strike by Pakistani terrorists.

India Brings up Masood Azhar, Need for Progress on Pathankot and 26/11

India raised the issue of listing Masood Azhar, the mastermind behind the Pathankot attack, as an international terrorist at the UN. According to MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar conveyed the need for early progress in the Pathankot probe and the 26/11 Mumbai terror investigation to his Pakistani counterpart

India has, for long, been pressing for action against terrorists responsible for the attack on the Pathankot air force base, to move ahead in the talks.

Want ‘Just Solution’ in Kashmir: Pakistan

The Pakistan High Commission said all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute were discussed between the two diplomats. The Pakistan Foreign Secretary, however, emphasised that Kashmir remains the core issue. He has called for a just solution in accordance with the resolutions of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Can’t be in Denial Over Terror: India

Jaishankar however told Chaudhry that Pakistan cannot be in denial on the impact of terrorism on the bilateral relations of the two countries. India told Pakistan that terrorist groups targeting India cannot be allowed to operate with impunity.

Foreign Secretary clearly conveyed that the Pakistan cannot be in denial on the impact of terrorism on the bilateral relations. Discussions also covered humanitarian issues including those pertaining to fishermen and prisoners.
Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson, MEA

India ‘Firmly Rebuts’ Involvement in Balochistan

A TV grab of Kulbhushan Yadav, whom Pakistan has arrested for his alleged links with India’s foreign espionage agency RAW.
A TV grab of Kulbhushan Yadav, whom Pakistan has arrested for his alleged links with India’s foreign espionage agency RAW.

During the talks the two Foreign Secretaries, according to the Pakistan High Commission, also discussed the alleged Indian RAW officer captured by Pakistan – Kulbhushan Jadhav and the agency’s alleged involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi.

A source in the Ministry of External Affairs has said that India firmly rebutted Paksitan’s allegations of Indian involvement in Balochistan. The source further said, in reference to Kulbhushan Jadhav, that there is no logic in sending spies with a passport.

We pressed for immediate consular access to Kulbhushan Yadav, former naval officer, abducted and taken to Pakistan
Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson, MEA

Pakistan also voiced concern over Indian efforts for release of the prime suspects in the Samjhauta Express blasts.

Reviving the Stalled Peace Talks

This was the first formal meeting between Jaishankar and Chaudhry after the announcement of Bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue by the Foreign Ministers in Islamabad last December. The two secretaries had a brief informal interaction during a SAARC meeting in Nepal in March this year.

Pakistani sources earlier said no major breakthrough was expected in the meeting held under the shadow of the Pathankot attack and the arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav.

The Shadow of Pathankot

Indian authorities had provided evidence to the Pakistan Joint Investigative Team (JIT), indicating that the Pathankot attack was carried out by militants of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

The Pak JIT was also allowed to visit the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Origin of the Heart of Asia Conference

The Pakistan Foreign Secretary was in New Delhi to attend the Heart of Asia conference. Pakistan has continued to play an active role in the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, which was established in 2011 as a platform to discuss regional issues including security, economic cooperation and connectivity among Afghanistan, its neighbours and regional countries with a view to promoting lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, a statement by the Pakistan Foreign Office said.

The statement also pointed to Pakistan’s “commitment to efforts for promoting long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan” with its participation in the Istanbul Process.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had jointly hosted the fifth Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Islamabad on 9 December 2015.

The latest round of the now-stalled peace talks started when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad during the conference last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid a surprise visit to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday in what was considered to be an effort to break the ice with Pakistan.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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