Despite the chill in diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan, Islamabad sent a four-member team of counter-terrorism and intelligence specialists last week to attend a multilateral meeting in New Delhi recently, The Indian Express has learnt.
The security and intelligence establishments of the two countries have been at loggerheads in recent years, especially after the terrorist attacks in Pathankot and Uri, and more recently over the death sentence of former Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is in Pakistani jail.
The Pakistani officials, including a colonel from the country’s army, were hosted by deputy NSA Rajinder Khanna — a former chief of R&AW, India’s external agency — for a dinner reception, along with other delegates, sources said.
The Pakistan delegation comprised Ahmad Farooq, director general (counter-terrorism) in Pakistan’s foreign ministry; Farhan Zahid, director, National Counter Terrorism Authority ; Col Sajjad Hussein, joint secretary (headquarters); and Adeel Ahmed Khan, director, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
They were in Delhi from January 31 to February 2, and the meeting was deliberately kept under wraps at the request of the visiting delegates, sources said.
The quiet meeting on “counter-terrorism” and “security cooperation”, under the umbrella of SCO, was held in Delhi. Sources said delegates from Pakistan, China, Russia among other countries in the grouping also went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.
There was “no bilateral meeting” between Indian and Pakistani officials, but the discussions at the grouping were of “substantive nature”, sources said.
“The discussions were largely focused on violent extremism and radicalisation — two of key concerns for the Central Asian countries, along with China and Russia,” a source said. “Since India and Pakistan have just entered the grouping, their concerns were not reflected… Chinese and Russian interlocutors are very clear on the fact that they do not want the bilateral issues between India and Pakistan to spill over on SCO discussions.”
This was the first such occasion where officials dealing with “counter-terrorism” and “security” issues came to India from Pakistan in the last two years.