India, Pak mutually ‘agree’ to defer FS-level talks

RSTV Bureau
FILE: Islamabad: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj talking to the media as she arrived at Islamabad in Pakistan on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary also seen.  Photo - PTI

FILE: Islamabad: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj talking to the media as she arrived at Islamabad in Pakistan on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary also seen.
Photo – PTI

Foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan scheduled to take place on Friday has now been deferred. After Pakistan’s foreign ministry made an announcement Thursday morning, the MEA briefed the press pack in New Delhi saying both the countries have “agreed” to reschedule the foreign secretary level talks.

“Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar spoke to his Pakistani counterpart…. They agreed to reschedule Foreign Secretary level talks in near future,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

As per the schedule chalked out earlier, Foreign Secretary was slated to go to Islamabad on Friday for talks with his counterpart on resuming the Indo-Pak dialogue process.

But the suspense over talks only got thicker Wednesday night as government decided to defer its decision for a day after meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

Detailing further, the MEA spokesperson told that National Security Advisors of both India and Pakistan are in “regular touch”.

Earlier on Wednesday night, after the meeting between PM Modi and Ms Swaraj, it was decided to await the return of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval from Paris on Thursday afternoon before final call is taken. There was also a speculation that the NSAs of two nations will meet or perhaps speak over the phone before the decision on any other bilateral-level talks is taken.

FILE: File photo of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi with the Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI Photo

FILE: File photo of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi with the Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
PTI Photo

The government of India also welcomed the probe initiated by Pakistan establishment on Pathankot terror attack. Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif had on Wednesday summoned a high-level meeting with shadows looming over the fate of FS-level talks, where they decided to form a Special Investigation Team, in consultation with the Government of India, to probe the Pathankot attack.

“We are waiting for Pakistan’s probe team to come to India for investigating the Pathankot attack. We will extend full support to them,” Swarup said adding, “We welcome yesterday’s statement by Pakistan. It is initial first positive step”.

Early on Wednesday, Pakistan agencies detained several individuals belonging to terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhhamed, which is alleged to be behind dastardly terrorist attack on the Pathankot airbase on January 1. Some of JeM’s offices were also sealed, claimed Pakistan in a statement released by its Prime Minister’s Office.

There is, however, still no confirmation over the detention or arrest of Jaish-e-Mohammad founder-in-chief Maulana Masood Azhar, as reported by Pakistan press on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Pakistan foreign office ruled out any information on action against Masood Azhar.

The government of India is seeking action on part of Pakistan soon after the JeM-link to Pathankot terror attack became clear. PM Modi had firmly conveyed his Pakistan counterpart after the latter had called up at the time of terror attack.

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.

(With inputs from the Agencies)