Pakistan, India to resume peace talks

December 27, 2013 - 9:23:20 am
ISLAMABAD: Signifying a gradual thaw in relations, Pakistan and India are inching closer to the resumption of stalled peace talks following the ‘successful’ meeting of top military officials from the two countries this week.

Billed as baby steps, the two neighbours are holding discussions to arrange a meeting of their commerce ministers next month in New Delhi. 

A foreign ministry official revealed that commerce ministers would meet on the sidelines of a conference of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in the Indian capital on January 15-17.

Officials familiar with the development said major decisions were expected in the commerce ministers’ talks, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would announce new measures seeking improved trade and economic ties with New Delhi.

“The meeting of DGMOs will certainly help ease tensions,” said another official speaking on condition of anonymity. During Tuesday’s historic meeting, the DGMOs agreed to take steps to prevent ceasefire violations across the Line of Control (LoC) that separates our two countries.

Despite the chequered history, Pakistan is now hoping that the easing of tensions on the LoC will pave the way for the resumption of composite dialogue. 

“Our proposal for resumption of the dialogue is still on the table and we expect now a positive response from India,” the official said. The third round of peace process was originally scheduled to kick-start in January this year but talks could not take place due to clashes on the LoC.

New Delhi was also reluctant to resume the composite dialogue due to what it claimed ‘slow progress’ to prosecute perpetrators of November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Commenting on the development, a foreign office official acknowledged that negative fallout of the Mumbai attacks was still haunting the two neighbours. 

“But our position is very clear that the process of dialogue must continue,” the official insisted.

Meanwhile, it is also learnt that a meeting between the national security advisers of the two countries was likely to take place soon to discuss the prospects of peace talks.

Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz sent a letter through his special assistant to his Indian counterpart seeking early restoration of composite dialogue. Nawaz said his government was willing to go ‘extra mile’ to improve ties with India. 

The partition of the Punjab and Bengal provinces led to communal riots across India and Pakistan; millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India.

Attacks on Indian military bases by the Pakistan Air Force in December 1971 sparked the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which ended with the formal secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.

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