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Sushma Swaraj to engage with Pakistan after Bangkok talks

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Islamabad: India and Pakistan are set to hold the third bilateral engagement at the top level in less than 10 days with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reaching Islamabad on Tuesday for a conference on Afghanistan.

While speaking to reporters in the Pakistani capital, Swaraj said that it was necessary and appropriate for her to hold talks with PM Nawaz Sharif and his Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

Following an impromptu meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Paris on the margins of a global climate change conference on November 30, the national security advisers of the two sides met in Bangkok on December 6 and discussed all major issues, including Kashmir.

Swaraj is expected to take this process forward during her likely meetings with Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif and his Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on the margins of what is called the 5th Ministerial Conference on Heart of Asia Istanbul Process.

This is also the first ministerial visit from India to its South Asian neighbor since the then external affairs minister S M Krishna went to Pakistan in 2012.

But the visit is likely to include more.

After the Bangkok meeting between India’s Ajit Doval and Naseer Khan Janjua of Pakistan, along with foreign secretaries S Jaishanker and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Swaraj is also expected to take up a host of other issues.

A joint statement issued by the two sides in Bangkok said: “Discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues including tranquility along the LoC (Line of Control that divides the two counties).”

Sushma Swaraj’s visit has evoked keen interest in diplomatic circles and among stakeholders.

“What seemed impossible just weeks ago has turned into a remarkable, almost unprecedented, round of diplomacy at the very highest levels,” the Dawn newspaper said in an editorial ahead of the Indian minister’s visit.

“The meetings must, first and foremost, be welcomed by every right-thinking Indian and Pakistani. Not talking to each other should be an unacceptable state of affairs when it comes to the two South Asian neighbours.”

The main purpose of the visit though is the conference — The Heart of
Asia Istanbul Process — that was established in 2011 at the initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey.

The Fifth Ministerial Conference is expected to adopt a forward-looking Islamabad Declaration entitled “Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region”. (IANS)

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Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India

India has accused Pakistan of cynically exploiting the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the General Assembly

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Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India
Pakistan Exploits Situation In Jammu & Kashmir: India. flickr

India has accused Pakistan of cynically exploiting the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the General Assembly while it was discussing an important issue.

“Such cynical attempts have failed in the past and do not find any resonance in this body,” Sandeep Kumar Bayyapu, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission, said on Monday.

He was replying to a reference to Kashmir made by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi during a debate on the Right to Protect People against crimes against humanity.

“While we are having this serious debate for the first time in a decade on an issue that is of importance to all of us, we have witnessed that one delegation has, yet again, misused this platform to make an unwarranted reference to the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Bayyapu said.

“I would like to place on record and reiterate that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India. No amount of empty rhetoric from Pakistan will change this reality,” he added.

Lodhi had said that many of the victims of killings and “mass-blinding” are “in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir” and that they “have the further indignity of living under an illegal and alien occupation”.

Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi. flickr

“Against this backdrop, calls for accountability would invariably smack of double standards and selectivity, especially when egregious crimes including killings and mass-blinding are being committed in full view of the international community,” she said.

However, Lodhi also said: “At its core, the responsibility to protect, is not a license to intervene in external situations, but, is instead, a universal principle of ‘non-indifference’, in keeping with historical context and cultural norms of respective settings.”

Also read: Women-Driven Rickshaw Program Creating Sensation in Pakistan

“We should also be mindful that the notion of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ does not become a mere re-enactment of the discredited ‘humanitarian interventions’ of the past,” she added. (IANS)