Sushma meets Sharif, takes bilateral ties forward

RSTV Bureau
Islamabad: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj greets Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz looks on at the Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process in Islamabad on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. Photo - PTI

Islamabad: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj greets Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz looks on at the Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process in Islamabad on Wednesday, December 9, 2015.
Photo – PTI

On Wednesday evening, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif and Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Pak PM, Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia summit in Islamabad. The meeting is another step forward in the Indo-Pak ties as it signals the resumption of the composite dialogue process between the two neighbours.

“I have come with the message that ties between the two countries should be good and move forward,” Swaraj had said on arriving in Islamabad on Tuesday evening.

Both sides will discuss various matters with focus on resumption of composite dialogue process, Aziz too had assured.

On Tuesday morning, ahead of Sushma’s arrival in Islamabad, Sharif chaired a high-level meeting with his top officials. The meeting was attended by Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, National Security Advisor Lt Gen (Rtd) Nasir Janjua, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and other officials.

Swaraj’s visit comes just three days after the surprise meeting between the NSAs (National Security Advisors) of India and Pakistan in Bangkok. Foreign Secretaries of both the countries were also present when the NSAs met. Key issues such as terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, cross-border firing and a host of other bilateral issues were discussed. The two nations also agreed to carry forward the “constructive” engagement.

The NSA-level talks in Bangkok were a big breakthrough in the recently deteriorating Indo-Pak relations. The two countries cancelled NSA-level talks in India in August this year, over a dispute on the agenda of the meet. India insisted that it will only talk on terror and Pakistan wanted to discuss the Kashmir issue with India, keeping the Kashmiri Separatists as a third party to the talks. This, under no circumstance was acceptable to India.

Almost, four months after the talks were cancelled, both India and Pakistan met again briefly in Paris, and then in Bangkok taking forward the stalled dialogue process. And now with the External Affairs Minister holding a bilateral meet in Islamabad, India-Pakistan ties are expected to improve.

Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad comes three years after former External Affairs Minister SM Krishna travelled to Islamabad in 2012 when the countries also inked a visa liberalisation pact.

(With inputs from PTI)