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India, Pakistan commence comprehensive bilateral dialogue

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Islamabad: India and Pakistan on Wednesday commenced a comprehensive bilateral dialogue between the two south Asian neighbours in Islamabad.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup, said that the foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet later.

The decision in this regard was taken on a day when Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed in the Pakistani capital that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan next year, the first such visit by the head of the Indian government in over a decade.

Modi will participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit, Sushma Swaraj told the media.

This will be the first prime ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the South Asian neighbour in January 2004 to attend that year’s Saarc summit.

Sushma Swaraj said she would accompany Modi during his visit, Geo TV reported.

The Indian minister is in Islamabad to participate in the Heart of Asia Conference on peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Sushma Swaraj’s is the first ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since the then external affairs minister S M Krishna went to Islamabad for official visit in 2012.

At the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit held in Ufa, Russia, in July, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Modi to attend the Saarc summit in Islamabad next year, which Modi had accepted.

After the Ufa meeting, both prime ministers directed their foreign secretaries to initiate the process of renewing talks, including meetings between the national security advisors of the two countries.

However, NSA-level talks between India’s Ajit Doval and his then Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz scheduled in New Delhi in August were cancelled after the Pakistan high commissioner in New Delhi insisted on inviting Hurriyat leaders for pre-talks consultations before Aziz arrived.

Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan comes after a flurry of diplomatic engagements between the two South Asian neighbours in the past 10 days.

Modi and Sharif had an impromptu meeting on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties (CoP-21) Climate Summit in Paris on November 30.

Both leaders were seen warmly shaking hands at the summit venue as world leaders converged for the opening of the event.

The two leaders then sat on the same sofa and were seen engaging in an animated discussion.

Following this, on December 6, Doval and Pakistani NSA Naseer Khan Janjua held a meeting in Bangkok which was also attended by Foreign Secretaries S.Jaishanker and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said the two NSAs held discussions “in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere”.

According to the statement, the NSAs “were guided by the vision of the two leaders for a peaceful, stable and prosperous South Asia”.

“Discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues including tranquillity along the LoC (Line of Control).”

“It was agreed to carry forward the constructive engagement,” said the statement.

The LoC divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

On Wednesday, Sushma Swaraj also met Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif and his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of the Islamabad conference.

According to external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup, during the meeting with Sharif, Sushma Swaraj conveyed “India’s commitment to good neighbourly relations”.

After the meeting with Aziz, Swarup tweeted: “Building a cooperative relationship. EAM @SushmaSwaraj meets Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Mr Sartaj Aziz.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Sushma Swaraj extended India’s hand of friendship to Pakistan at the Heart of Asia Conference.

“It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation,” she said in her address at the conference.

“For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with,” she added.

Later, the Indian minister attended a lunch hosted by Sharif for delegates to the Heart of Asia Conference.

(With inputs from agencies)

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New Resolute and More Muscular India Put on Its Fresh Aggressive Game Face

Pakistan's isolation is complete and Imran Khan's last minute attempt to speak to Donald Trump also appears to have failed

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India, Muscular, Game
By restating its position on how Pakistan remains a rogue state indulging in unabashed state sponsored terror through proxies. Pixabay

On Friday morning, India secured a major diplomatic victory at the UN by reiterating its unequivocal position on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan being the cradle of terror. By restating its position on how Pakistan remains a rogue state indulging in unabashed state sponsored terror through proxies, India once again notched up major brownie points with the world community at large. Pakistan’s isolation is complete and Imran Khan’s last minute attempt to speak to Donald Trump also appears to have failed.The most important part is that the UN Security Council acknowledged India’s measures to bring normalcy and development to Kashmir and wants all countries to follow suit. The piece de resistance came from Indias Permanent Representative to UN Syed Akbaruddin, who said: “We are gratified that the Security Council in its closed consultations appreciated these efforts, acknowledged them and indicated that this is the direction in which they would like the international community to move.”

India’s diplomatic encirclement of Pakistan has been a success with the primacy of its position over Jammu and Kashmir being undisputed and unchallenged. Barring China, the world has accepted India’s position including the Arab world, formerly sponsors and supporters of Pakistan. But it is clear that even they are fed up.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi talking to IANS earlier this week said: “I feel that there are two aspects to this. First, a certain section of people believed that my government — and I personally — would fail on the foreign policy front not just in the Gulf region, but also in the wider context. The reality is that my government’s successful track record on foreign policy across the world is there for everyone to see. In fact, after assuming office in 2014, the very first Foreign Minister my government received on an official visit was that of the Sultanate of Oman. So, what others thought of me, and what the reality turned out to be, is for them to introspect.”

Prime Minister Modi doesn’t get adequate credit for this outreach but as he explained: “I think our policy has succeeded to a large extent because of this outreach, this constant engagement. We have not allowed any miscommunication, any doubts to play spoilsport. We have been very open with all the countries, and they have also reciprocated with warmth and friendship. I firmly believe that India and the Gulf countries have only begun to explore the true potential of a partnership which will go far beyond mutual benefits and can anchor peace, progress and prosperity not only in our common and extended neighbourhood but also in the larger world.”

India, Muscular, Game
On Friday morning, India secured a major diplomatic victory at the UN by reiterating its unequivocal position on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan being the cradle of terror. Pixabay

Even as Pakistan has upscaled ‘Ceasefire Violations’ both in terms of weapon and area in dimension over the last a few days, India has met fire with fire keeping a red alert vigil on the LoC. With a successful lockdown in progress in the Kashmir Valley and use of the Westphalian sovereignty template, India has managed to convince the world that its policy imperatives on the newly designed Union Territory are noble. The fact that not a single incident of violence has resulted is an equally bigger win.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s single minded obsession appears to show Kashmir as a potential flashpoint to seek world attention. This has been tamped down with India’s delicate handling of the situation. While the closed door meeting has turned into an acceptance of the Indian viewpoint, Pakistan is expected to continue pushing the envelope.

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With the UN General Assembly scheduled to commence shortly, Pakistan’s ploy of playing the victim card may not exactly get traction with the world given the toxic state’s track record as the global centrifugal force of jihadis. A new tactic being used this time by Pakistan is to escalate ceasefire violations so that the world may take due notice that Kashmir and the border is a dangerous place. With Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh calling Pakistan’s bluff by rescinding the NFN – no first nuke – option on Friday, a new resolute and more muscular India put on its fresh aggressive game face. (IANS)