ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India may resume the stalled peace process after the brief ‘ice-breaking’ interaction between their respective prime ministers at the concluding session of the Saarc summit.
The Express Tribune has learnt through diplomatic sources that the two countries will first restore the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary (WB) before a meeting between their foreign secretaries will be held.
India had cancelled the foreign secretaries’ talks at the last moment in August in protest against the Pakistani high commissioner’s meeting with Kashmiri leaders in New Delhi. The prospect of rapprochement was further diminished when clashes broke out in October between the two militaries along the LoC and WB which left at least two dozen people, mostly civilians, on both sides of the frontier dead.
Thursday’s informal interaction between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at a retreat in Kathmandu helped cool down the temperature, according to diplomatic sources.
There was no official word from either side about the ‘informal chat’ but the sources and Pakistani officials hoped this would lead to some positive development. They also indicated that tension between the two countries would ease in the coming weeks.
One source suggested that foreign secretaries from the two countries could meet in March. Meanwhile, at her weekly news briefing, foreign ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters that Pakistan wanted peace in the neighbourhood.
“As the prime minister said in his speech yesterday, we need to focus on economic development. Good neighbourly ties have to be on the basis of equality,” Tasnim added.
She dismissed media reports that Pakistan impeded the progress of Saarc, saying Islamabad had played a very constructive role in the meetings leading up to the summit.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2014.