Indo-Pak talks to restart; pledge to root out terror

RSTV Bureau
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Ufa: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani Counterpart Nawaz Sharif greet delegation members during a meeting at UFA in Russia on Friday. Photo – PTI

Looking ahead and forging better relationship between the two countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart struck a breakthrough by deciding to revive the stalled dialogue process. The issue of terror dominated the delegation-level talks between the two nations on Friday with both leaders pledging to eliminate terrorism from South Asia.

PM Modi and Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif also agreed to find ways to speed up the trial of the 26/11 Mumbai attack case.

In their first bilateral talks after nearly an year, PM Modi and Sharif had a talk for more than an hour on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Ufa, Russia and discussed host of issues concerning the two countries.

Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan, S Jaishankar and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, respectively held a joint press conference panning out the details of the much anticipated meeting between the two top leaders.

“Both sides agreed to discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial including additional information like providing voice samples,” the statement read.

Detailing the agenda agreed upon in the talks, the joint statement apprised that National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz will meet in New Delhi to discuss all issues connected to terrorism.

In a significant move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also accepted Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan for the SAARC summit next year.

PM Modi and PM Sharif had held their last bilateral meet in May last year when the Pakistan Prime Minister came to New Delhi to attend swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the relations between the two countries soon suffered a chill after India lodged a protest with Islamabad on the issue of Pakistan High Commissioner meeting the Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the Foreign Secretary level talks. The talks were subsequently cancelled.

Following the episode, the two leaders had met during the SAARC summit in Kathmandu in November last year but had merely exchanged pleasantries.

In the talks on Friday morning, the issue of terrorism remained the focus with both the leaders condemning terrorism in “all its forms” and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate the menace from South Asia.

“They agreed that India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues,” the joint statement read further.

Both the sides also agreed to hold early meetings of DG BSF and DG Pakistan Rangers followed by that of Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs). The issue of releasing the fishermen in each other’s custody too was taken up where it was decided that the fishermen, along with their boats, will be released within a period of 15 days.

“The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. The two leaders exchanged views on issues of bilateral and regional interest,” the foreign secretaries said in a joint statement.

A mechanism for facilitating religious tourism will also be worked out, as per the five-point steps to be taken by the two sides.

(With inputs from the PTI)