Pak sends signal — and Sartaj Aziz for Amritsar meet

Aziz said he himself will participate in the conference and will not repeat India’s “blunder” of boycotting the SAARC summit which was to be held in Islamabad this month.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published:November 17, 2016 4:37 am
 Sartaj Aziz, pakistan government, islamabad, Heart of Asia conference, amritsar conference, sartaj amritsar, sartaj aziz in india, surgical strikes, uri attack, kashmir unrest, indian express news, india pakistan news, india news Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. (Source Reuters)

In what is being read as the first signal from Islamabad after ties with New Delhi hit rock bottom, the Pakistan government has decided to send Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs advisor to its Prime Minister, for the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar on December 3-4.

This will be the first ministerial-level visit — Aziz is the de facto Minister for Foreign Affairs — from Pakistan after the Pathankot attack in January derailed the proposed bilateral dialogue process between the two countries. Relations plummeted sharply in the wake of the Uri attack, India’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads along the Line of Control and the daily exchange of fire by troops on either side.

Although Pakistan had confirmed earlier that it would attend the Amritsar conference, the decision to send Aziz is considered significant.

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The conference on Afghanistan’s future will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.

Pakistan public broadcaster PTV quoted Aziz saying, “Unlike India, that had sabotaged the SAARC summit in Pakistan by pulling out, Pakistan will respond by participating in the Heart of Asia being held in India. It’s a good opportunity to defuse tension.”

Aziz said he himself will participate in the conference and will not repeat India’s “blunder” of boycotting the SAARC summit which was to be held in Islamabad this month.

Officials in Islamabad see this as an opportunity to try and “normalise” relations. “We are constructive about the relationship… would like to see some progress… but is New Delhi ready?” a Pakistani official told The Indian Express.

While there was no official word from New Delhi on Pakistan’s decision to send Aziz, Indian officials said he was welcome to attend the Heart of Asia conference. “It is a multilateral event… and every participant’s presence will be treated as such. No bilateral importance should be attached to it,” South Block sources said.

Pakistan, sources said, cannot afford to stay away from a conference where the future of Afghanistan is being discussed. “It is important for them to stay in the room,” sources said.

Last December, when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad for the last Heart of Asia ministerial meeting, she held a bilateral meeting with Aziz. She also met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.

The meetings led to the resumption of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue process, but that stalled after the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase. Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry had visited New Delhi in April for a meeting of the Heart of Asia officials.

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  1. R
    Ravinder Bhardwaj
    Nov 16, 2016 at 11:35 pm
    I think this guy should not be invited at all and denied Visa if he applies for one.
    Reply
    1. A
      avi
      Nov 17, 2016 at 5:02 am
      Oh please stay at home we don't need you ! Perhaps Donald Trump is now making you try things differently ???
      Reply
      1. K
        Kay Gee
        Nov 17, 2016 at 8:39 am
        Strip search him at airport and before attending conference.
        Reply
        1. B
          Bandra
          Nov 17, 2016 at 9:09 pm
          Who wants a Rat? India will do well without one- He talks of peace on his terms by turning and twisting Facts- Mr Aziz should ask his army to vacate Kashmir-hand it over to India and then talk of UN Resolutions which were in any case overridden by the Simla Agreement. If he does this he can get the Nobel Prize himself- He needs it more than Mr. Trump whom he wants to nominate in case he settles the Kashmir dispute.
          Reply
          1. K
            krish
            Nov 17, 2016 at 4:00 am
            Now even if this visit happens as it is multilateral, let's make it clear, not to repeat the mistake of resuming talks anymore. There should be no talks till there is terror.
            Reply
            1. M
              Manju
              Nov 17, 2016 at 4:03 am
              Do you trust these stani muslim. India stops at border they will indulge in islamic terrorism. For muslim, killing kafirs or non believers or hindus in their qurin..but retaliation is violations of their human rights, unexpected disproportionate force. Why are muslim in india after muslim creatrd stan for themselves. Send Muslims to stan as Solvania did or Burma did. Indians can not trust muslim
              Reply
              1. P
                Priyank
                Nov 17, 2016 at 3:20 am
                No talks with failed and terrorist state papistan!
                Reply
                1. H
                  heena
                  Nov 17, 2016 at 5:54 am
                  No more trust left with this rogue country. These mad dogs need to be culled. , send him back in the same plane. They may sneak in as terrorist.
                  Reply
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