‘Nawaz and Modi should meet on sidelines of Saarc’

By Sarkaritel November 22, 2014 11:06

‘Nawaz and Modi should meet on sidelines of Saarc’

New Delhi, Nov 22  The prime ministers of India and Pakistan should meet on the sidelines of the forthcoming Saarc summit in Nepal to resume bilateral talks between the two countries, foreign policy experts from India and Pakistan demanded at a conference here.

The delegates from the two countries, which included former foreign ministers of India and Pakistan Salman Khurshid and Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri respectively, said that the ice-breaking in Kathmandu should be followed by early summit-level talks between the two prime ministers, either in New Delhi or Islamabad, with a well planned and comprehensive agenda.

“What is needed is strong political will on both sides and a determination to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir and cross-border terrorism,” a declaration issued after a two-day meeting by the delegates of the two countries said.

A part of track-II diplomacy efforts, the conference was attended by a 16-member delegation from Pakistan led by Kasuri. The Indian delegation was led by former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and included besides Khurshid, Dilip Padgaonkar, Sudheendra Kulkarni and Sandeep Dikshit.

The Pakistani delegation was in India at the initiative of the Regional Peace Institute, Pakistan and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Pakistan.

India called off talks with Pakistan in August over the Pakistan High Commissioner meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders despite Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh calling up High Commissioner Abdul Basit and requesting him not to.

Refusing to comment on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement on talking with the separatists in Kashmir, Khurshid Kasuri told the media: “I don’t want to get into this as it will be counter-productive”.

“The track-II efforts are aimed at creating a conducive environment,” he said adding “whenever there is a conducive atmosphere then things will move forward”.

“When we go back (to Pakistan), the sentiments of the people of India will be conveyed, we have means of doing that,” he said.

Questioned on the future of the track-II efforts with a new dispensation at the centre in India, Kasuri said: “The peace process was started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee though the Congress carried it forward”.

Former Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid said track-II provides a platform. “There is no alternative to track-II. If you are not moving ahead forward officially, then this is the only way forward,” he said.

Mani Shankar Aiyar said: “We can at least hope that this stage setting will have some influence”.

The declaration also demanded that acts of terrorism must be condemned with a zero-tolerance approach, irrespective of who masterminds them, what their motives are, and against whom they are perpetrated.

“Simultaneously, strenuous efforts should be initiated to promote and strengthen the common heritage of religious freedom, tolerance, plurality, peace and brotherhood,” it said.

Observing that the two governments should take strong and speedy steps to remove all impediments, it said: “The recent flare-ups along the line of control have intensified tensions”.

The declaration also called for liberalizing the visa policy between the two countries and opening more consular offices.

By Sarkaritel November 22, 2014 11:06