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PM Narendra Modi, Nawaz Sharif revive stalled Indo-Pak bilateral dialogue

The statement issued by the two sides stated that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz will meet in New Delhi to discuss all issues connected to terrorism.

Written by Anil Sasi | Ufa |
Updated: July 11, 2015 7:30:14 am
Narendra Modi, Nawaz Sharif, modi meet sharif, narendra modi nawaz sharif, brics, Ufa, Modi Sharif meet, Sharif Modi meet, modi russia, russia modi, modi sharif meeting, sharif modi meeting, modi brics, modi saarc, modi pakistan, modi news, pakistan news, india news, russia news, world news, indian express Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of talks in Ufa, Russia (PTI photo)

Moving to revive the stalled bilateral dialogue process between India and Pakistan, prime ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on Friday signalled their willingness to find ways to expedite the trial of the Mumbai terror attacks case and “agreed to cooperate” on eliminating terrorism from South Asia.

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The meeting also set the stage for the first trip by an Indian PM to Pakistan in over 15 years, with Modi accepting an invitation from Sharif to attend the SAARC meeting in Islamabad next year.

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Significantly, a joint statement issued by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, after the hour-long meeting between Modi and Sharif on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, contained no reference to the Kashmir issue.

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Instead, the statement noted that both sides are prepared to discuss “all outstanding issues”, which is being seen as a nuanced indication that the Kashmir issue will be on the table alongside other topics to be discussed in due course.

Later, Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz said that Kashmir was discussed during the meeting between the two PMs.

The first bilateral talks between Modi and Sharif in over a year also laid out the roadmap for the two sides, starting with a meeting in New Delhi of their national security advisors, Ajit Doval and Aziz, on issues linked to terrorism. It also included cooperation on the 26/11 attacks trial such as providing voice samples.

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Last week, India had raised objections against China for blocking a move by the UN to censure Pakistan for the release of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, who still faces trial over the attacks that left 166 people dead in Mumbai.

Friday’s meeting, which was the first structured interaction between the two leaders since Sharif attended Modi’s swearing-in event in Delhi last May, also decided to convene “early meetings” of the BSF and Pakistan Rangers chiefs followed by that of Directorate Generals of Military Operations of both sides.

A decision on the release of fishermen in each other’s custody, along with their boats, within a period of 15 days was also taken.

Besides, the statement said, a mechanism will be put in place for facilitating religious tourism.

The big takeaway from the meeting though was the progress on the Mumbai attacks case, which is being seen as a step forward from the Indian perspective.

“Both leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from South Asia,” Chaudhry told reporters at the joint briefing.

To ensure peace, Chaudhry said, the leaders “are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues”.

The relationship between India and Pakistan had nosedived after New Delhi called off talks between the foreign secretaries last August in the wake of the Pakistani envoy hosting Kashmiri separatists in the run-up to the bilateral talks.

The takeaways

* Measures to expedite Mumbai case trial, including additional information like providing voice samples.

* Meeting in New Delhi between the two NSAs to discuss issues connected to terrorism.

* Meetings of DG BSF and DG Pakistan Rangers followed by that of DGMOs.

* Decision on release of fishermen in each other’s custody, along with their boats, within a period of 15 days.

* Mechanism for facilitating religious tourism.

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