India-Pak Foreign Secy level talks still in deep freeze

RSTV Bureau
FILE: File photo of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.  Photo - PTI

FILE: File photo of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.
Photo – PTI

The shadow of suspense still looms large over the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue. A fortnight after both countries had mutually “agreed” to reschedule the Foreign Secretary-level talks, they are yet to pin on the “mutually convenient” date for the same. Earlier this month, foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan, scheduled to take place on January 15 in Islamabad, were deferred.

“There is no mutually convenient date for Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level talks so far,” Union External Affairs ministry told the press on Thursday.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar was slated to meet his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry to discuss the roadmap of resuming Indo-Pak dialogue process but the attack on Pathankot airbase by six terrorists, with an alleged Pakistan link added to the already sticky Indo-Pak relations.

Ahead of the scheduled talks, India had firmly demanded action on part of Pakistan soon after Jaish-e-Muhhamed (JeM) link to Pathankot terror attack became clear. PM Modi had firmly conveyed his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif after the latter had called up at the time of terror attack.

Photo – PTI

Photo – PTI

Though, Pakistan agencies detained several individuals belonging to terror outfit JeM, sealing some of its offices, there was no confirmation over the detention or arrest or any legal action against Jaish founder-in-chief Maulana Masood Azhar.

Owing to those developments, New Delhi took a stock with Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj meeting with Prime Minister Modi two days before the talks. A day after MEA announced the decision to defer talks.

Six terrorists belonging to the dreaded Jaish-e-Mohammad, headed by Maulana Masood Azhar of Kandahar hijack episode, is believed by India to be behind Pathankot attack. Seven security personnel, including a Lt Col. rank NSG officer, were killed.

Meanwhile, briefing the press further on Thursday, the MEA spokesperson added, “India will raise with Pakistan the issue of a balloon coming from the neighbouring country, which was shot down by an IAF fighter aircraft over Rajasthan”.

One US-made helium-filled balloon was on Tuesday afternoon shot down by a Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft over Rajasthan. According to the top government sources, the balloon had come from Pakistan side of the air space.

The shiny 3 metres in diameter balloon, with ‘Happy Birthday’ written on it, was flying at a height of about 25,000 feet in Jaisalmer district when it was picked up by Indian Air Force radars which were on high alert in view of Republic Day celebrations

(With inputs from the Agencies)