In a sudden breakthrough in the stalled Indo-Pak dialogue, the National Security Advisors of the two countries met for four hours in Bangkok on Sunday and discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other bilateral issues and agreed to take forward the “constructive” engagement.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Nasir Janjua, their foreign secretaries S Jaishankar and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry held their marathon meeting in the Thai capital, barely six days after their Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif held a brief meeting in Paris obviously with a view to revive the stalled dialogue process.
A joint statement, issued after the meeting said, “Pursuant to the meeting of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan in Paris, the NSAs, accompanied by the Foreign Secretaries, met in Bangkok today.
“Discussions were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere. They were guided by the vision of the two leaders for a peaceful, stable and prosperous South Asia.
“Discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues, including tranquility along the LoC. It was agreed to carry forward the constructive engagement.”
The choice of a neutral third country venue for the NSAs meeting may have been prompted by a desire to avoid a repeat of the events that led to the cancellation of a visit by the then NSA Sartaj Aziz to New Delhi for talks.
Pakistan had called-off the visit after New Delhi had made it clear that Aziz would not be allowed to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders in the Indian capital.
For the record, Indian sources said Bangkok had been chosen because of the “convenience” of both the sides. As Foreign Secretary was already in Tokyo in connection with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India and Pakistani side was also travelling, it was decided to meet in Bangkok due to the “convenience” of the two sides, sources said.
The Bangkok meeting also paves the way for a visit by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Islamabad this week to attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.
Today’s breakthrough clearly indicates that Modi-Sharif meeting in Paris was more than a sudden encounter and “exchange of courtesies” as had been claimed by the Indian side although Sharif had told Pakistani media that he had a “good meeting” and “doors of dialogue should open”.
The decision of the NSAs to take forward the “constructive” engagement also clearly suggest that they may have worked out a roadmap for resumption of the stalled bilateral dialogue, the details of which may emerge after Swaraj’s likely trip to Pakistan.