Islamabad: Pakistan has admitted that the recent Foreign Secretary-level talks held between the Asian neighbours on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul conference in New Delhi could not achieve any ‘major breakthrough’ as the latter refused to give any time frame for the start of comprehensive bilateral dialogue.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar met in New Delhi as part of latest efforts to break the impasse in bilateral ties.
After his return from New Delhi, Chaudhry indicated that no headway was made as far as the formal start of the composite dialogue with India was concerned.
“India has not given any date for the meeting of foreign secretaries,” Chaudhry said.
He said that no major breakthrough was achieved during the talks although India agreed that dialogue was the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues.
When asked to identify the obstacles in the resumption of peace talks, the Foreign Secretary said the question should be put before the Indian Government.
“Pakistan believes in sustained and structured dialogue. We will welcome whenever India is ready for the dialogue,” he said.
The arch-rivals had agreed to resume comprehensive bilateral dialogue in December last year after Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Following the meeting, the Foreign Secretaries of both nations were to meet in January and discuss issues of mutual interest. However, the dialogue process derailed after militants stormed India’s Pathankot airbase near the border with Pakistan in January this year.
India held Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad responsible for the attack. Pakistan condemning the attack formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to help India probe the incident.
The team recently visited the incident site in India and the final report on it is yet to be made public. However, initial foreign office reaction suggested that limited access to the Pakistani side was provided.
Asserting that Pakistan ‘firmly but politely’ raised all issues of its concerns with India in an ‘open and frank’ manner, the Foreign Secretary said Islamabad clearly informed India that Kashmir remains the core dispute between the two countries and called for early commencement of bilateral dialogue, including people-to-people contact and water issues.
The Foreign Secretary said that he also conveyed Pakistan’s concerns over the activities of Indian intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), in the internal affairs of Pakistan.
Chaudhry said that Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US under the banner of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) remained engaged in facilitating the talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban representatives.