NEW DELHI: Kashmir remains a core issue that requires a “just solution under United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and wishes of the people of the valley”, Pakistan foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry told his Indian counterpart on Tuesday.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said during the meeting between the Indo-Pak foreign secretaries on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference in New Delhi on Tuesday, Chaudhry underscored Pakistan’s commitment to ensure friendly relations with all its neighbours, including India.
Zakaria said the foreign secretary discussed all outstanding issues with India including the all important Kashmir issue, reminding India about the vitality of the UN resolution for lasting peace and prosperity in the region.
The foreign secretary also took up the issue of Kulbushan Jadhav’s arrest in Balochistan and expressed concern over Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW) involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan.
Jadhav, a RAW agent, was arrested from Balochistan in March and in a video released by ISPR confessed his involvement in terrorism related activites in Karachi and Balochistan.
The FO spokesman added that Chaudhry also conveyed Pakistan’s concerns over the environment created in India for the release of Samjhauta Express attack suspects and registered a protest for not sharing the investigation reports about the incident in which 42 Pakistanis lost their lives.
The foreign secretary underscored the need for early commencement of comprehensive dialogue between the two countries and expressed confidence that the goodwill generated by recent high level contacts will pave way for a meaningful dialogue between the two neighbours.
On the other hand, India has asked Pakistan to rein in “terrorist groups” operating from its soil and targeting India, expressing dissatisfaction with action taken so far against suspects of an attack on the Pathankot air force base in January.
“India’s FS (foreign secretary) emphasised the need for early and visible progress on the Pathankot terrorist attack investigation as well as the Mumbai case trial in Pakistan,” Indian External Affairs Ministry (MEA) spokesman Vikas Swarup said.
“Terrorist groups based in Pakistan must not be allowed to operate with impunity,” the MEA said in a statement.
India terms Jadhav’s arrest as abduction
During the meeting, India raised the issue of “abduction” of former Naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, saying he has been taken to Pakistan, and sought immediate consular access. This is for the first time India has categorically said Jadhav was abducted.
“India’s Foreign Secretary emphasised the need for early and visible progress on the Pathankot terrorist attack investigation as well as the Mumbai case trial in Pakistan. He also brought up the listing of JeM leader Masood Azhar in the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee.
“Foreign Secretary Jaishankar clearly conveyed that Pakistan cannot be in denial on the impact of terrorism on the bilateral relationship. Terrorist groups based in Pakistan targeting India must not be allowed to operate with impunity,” a statement by the External Affairs Ministry said after the talks.
The Pakistani side released the talking points while the meeting between the two foreign secretaries was still on.
Chaudhry’s trip is the first high-level visit to Delhi from Islamabad since the Pathankot attack although a team of investigators from different Pakistan agencies earlier travelled to India for collecting evidence linked to allegations that militants from Pakistan took part in the attack.
The two countries had been, in the aftermath of the Pathankot terrorist attack, been struggling to schedule a meeting of their foreign secretaries after both countries had coincidentally agreed on restarting their bilateral dialogue under a new format called the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue – agreed to at the last Heart of Asia ministerial meeting held in Islamabad last December, where India was represented by its External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
The agreement on the new talks’ framework had then infused optimism in the ties and was soon followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise stopover in Lahore.
But, soon afterwards Pathankot happened, which was blamed on Pakistan-based militants, and the seemingly smooth progress towards dialogue resumption began to flounder.