Admitting for the first time that the Pathankot terror attack has had a deep impact on the India-Pakistan dialogue process restarted in December 2015, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said on Wednesday that dealing with the attack took precedence over the Foreign Secretary talks at present.
Mr. Jaishankar was speaking at the Ministry of External Affairs’ ‘Raisina Dialogue’ here. His words came within hours of the attack on the Indian mission in Jalalabad.
As The Hindu had reported last week, senior officials now suggest the first time Indian, Pakistan Foreign Secretaries will meet will be at the SAARC consultations in Kathmandu on March 14-15.
India, Pakistan keeping parallel processes going
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is also expected to meet her counterpart Sartaj Aziz at the same event on March 16-17, ahead of an expected meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Washington at the end of March.
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said at the Ministry of External Affairs’ ‘Raisina Dialogue’ in Delhi on Tuesday that the governments of India and Pakistan had remained in touch at different levels including through regular telephone conversations between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Nasir Janjua, the Foreign secretaries, and Mr. Modi and Mr. Sharif, calling it a “picture of parallel processes.”
The Foreign Secretary’s statement, in response to a question after he delivered a Keynote Address at the Raisina conference, seemed to corroborate Pakistan Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s statement in Washington, where he accepted that the FS talks had been disrupted after the Pathankot airbase attack.
Thanking the U.S. for its support in reviving the India-Pakistan dialogue, Mr. Aziz said it was “unfortunate” that the “agreement on resuming the dialogue process was disrupted by the attack on Pathankot airbase on January 2,” and listed several steps taken by Pakistan in its aftermath of the attack. Interestingly, the Pakistan-U.S. statement confirmed that Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar was taken into custody, although the MEA insists it has not been informed of the development yet.