Heart of Asia summit unlikely to reignite India-Pak talk process

The sixth Heart of Asia conference is expected to see attendance of leaders from around 30 countries including US, Russia, China and Iran.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Published:December 1, 2016 6:35 pm
Heart of Asia Summit, India, pakistan, Indo-pak, Indo-pak talk, India pakistan, India-pakistan talk process, Sartaj Aziz, heart of Asia summit Amritsar, Amritsar, Indio-pak bilateral ties, Russia, China, Iran, Nawaz sharif, Qamar Javed Bajwa, Arun jaitley, narendra Modi, pathankot attack, Uri attack, Surgical strikes, india news, indian express news The discussions will revolve primarily on peace, cooperation and economic growth in Afghanistan and neighbouring regions. (Photo for representational purpose)

The Heart of Asia conference scheduled to be held in Amritsar on December 3-4 will be attended by Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz. However, any formal dialogue between India and Pakistan seems unlikely as both countries have abstained from making any formal request for a bilateral dialogue during the summit. The maximum we may see at the summit are informal talks on the sidelines that are not likely to foster a substantial change in the situation which has strained in the recent past.

The sixth Heart of Asia conference is expected to see attendance of leaders from around 30 countries including US, Russia, China and Iran. The theme will be connectivity and increasing security in and around the Afghan region. The discussions will revolve primarily on peace, cooperation and economic growth in Afghanistan and neighbouring regions. India is the co-chair and host this time and Afghanistan is the permanent chair of the conference. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will lead the Indian delegation in the summit.

India and Pakistan held a formal bilateral dialogue in the last Heart of Asia conference and decided to take the momentum forward in subsequent summits. However, tension has escalated between the two from the start of this year after the Pathankot attack and ceasefire violations in July. The Uri attack and hundreds of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control have left the two neighbours on the edge.

None of the parties have asked for a bilateral dialogue at the summit and with only two days to go, it is unlikely that one will be placed now. Pakistan has passed the buck to India with Sartaj Aziz, strategist and adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs, claiming that Pakistan is willing to talk but it doesn’t know whether India is willing or not.

After India’s retaliatory surgical strikes, regular terrorist attacks have been carried out in the country with army being the target. Trade has almost stopped. India has led a global isolation campaign against Pakistan.

Not since the Kargil war had tensions between the two neighbours escalated to such levels and it is incumbent upon the diplomatic machinery to find a breakthrough initiate a dialogue.

The ground was laid for a new beginning between the two countries. The establishment in Pakistan–an amalgam of civilian and military leadership with the military dictating security and foreign policy–has changed its texture with civilian government enjoying much more authority. After two decades, General Raheel Sharif has became the first Pakistani Army chief to call it a day on his retirement and hand over his position peacefully to the next General in line. The new Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is thought to be pro-democracy and has been carefully placed by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

However, General Sharif’s effect will take some time to wear off. It is also a fact that Sartaj Aziz is a key cog in the barrel of the establishment and his aggressive manipulations of the civilian Sharif have hurt the chances of a turnaround in relations between India-Pakistan on the diplomatic front for now.

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    Pillai
    Dec 1, 2016 at 2:35 pm
    DEAR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS / HOME AFFAIRS MINISTRIES, lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;INDIA SHOULD NOT BE A VICTIM THIS TIME, WITH SARTAJ AZIZ INVOLVED MORE IN ORGANIZING PARTIES IN STAN HIGH COMMISSION FOR KASHMIRI TERRORISTS AND OTHER NATIONAL HEADS, THAN ATTENDING THE SUMMIT. THIS IS, IN ALL LIKELIHOOD THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN AND SARTAJ WILL RETURN WITH FLYING COLOURS WITH A FULL SATISFACTION TO HAVE INTERNATIONALISED THE KASHMIR ISSUE FROM INDIAN SOIL. INDIA MUST ENSURE THAT HE ARRIVES, JUST BEFORE THE SUMMIT AND HE IS TOTALLY UNDER THE SURVEILLANCE OF OUR SOURCES AND HE MUST BE BLOCKED FOR ANY UNWANTED ENGAGEMENTS, OTHER THAN THE SUMMIT. HE SHOULD NOT BE ACCORDED WITH ANY WELCOME (REMEMBER, THE TREATMENT GIVEN TO HOME MINISTER RAJNATH SINGH IN STAN VERY RECENTLY). HOPE, WE WILL NOT FALL IN THEIR TRAP.
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      krish
      Dec 1, 2016 at 4:08 pm
      The only reason why Sartaj Aziz is going to attend the summit is due to Afghanistan, a country which stan likes to control indirectly, and is also alarmed at India's influence in Afghanistan. In the meantime, they will issue usual statements like India set preconditions for talks etc and play the victim card. Any summit would yield nothing on security matters in the region as long as terrorism is a matter of state policy in stan.lt;br/gt;India should just ignore these and take revenge on Nagrota soon.
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        kris kumar
        Dec 1, 2016 at 3:19 pm
        This bald old man called Sartaz Aziz should not get red carpet. I do not understand what was the need to send an invite. Sartaz is saying he will not sabotage HoA summit like what India did to SAARC. See the arrogance of the s. This does not understand that HoA and India could not careless of s sta out. In fact it would have done us a favour of s sta out because they are mischievous, trouble makers and obstructionist. This wants dialogue and we have heard this tape many times. The thick skinned s have no interest in the cross border infiltration and terrorism in India. No body knows what s want to talk about. denied transit to Afghan and India. s banned Indian movies. s never gave India MFN after India gave them many years ago. So why talk to Pak? Let them be slave to China. Sartaz said the ball is India court and that is fine and just keep off from India.
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          Rohit Chandavarker
          Dec 1, 2016 at 5:24 pm
          Any forward movement on talks will be an exercise in futility. Hence it would be wise not to initiate any dialogue with stan. The comprehensive pressure being brought to bear on stan must continue and wherever possible, increased. lt;br/gt;Change of guard in Rawalpindi will hardly change stan's policy towards India. Gen. Bajwa would prefer to follow the policy pursued so far and is unlikely to relent or back down. He has been commanding his forces along LoC and is well aware of the infrastructure and operations of the jihadi network. This experience will be useful to manite stani responses to further inflict damage on India. lt;br/gt;Hence, India would do well to ignore the change of guard in Rawalpindi and prepare its strategy without any changes.
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            sdas
            Dec 1, 2016 at 3:08 pm
            Thank God for small mercies ! Co-habitation with a snake is difficult by itself. Eating from the same bowl makes it impossible. MEA - thank you !
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