by Prarthana Mitra
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has made the first official overture to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on September 14, 2018, to revive peace talks, nearly two years after the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue was aborted after the Pathankot terror strike in January 2016.
In a letter addressed to Modi, Khan who recently assumed prime ministership, suggested and sought the resumption of Indo-Pak negotiations regarding border conflict and cross-border terrorism. “Building on the mutual desire for peace our two countries, I wish to propose a meeting between Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, before the informal meeting of the SAARC Foreign Ministers,” Khan wrote to his Modi.
India has reportedly accepted the offer, agreeing to engage in discussion on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meet. A meeting has been arranged between the foreign ministers at the event in New York later this month.
The last time Swaraj had engaged in similar talks was in 2015 during the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad, just months before Pakistan-based terror groups launched terrorist attacks at Pathankot. A spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Office, Mohammad Faisal, confirmed last week that they had “engaged” with India to facilitate a bilateral meeting between Qureshi and Swaraj but no decision has been taken on the issue so far.
Modi in August had expressed an interest in meaningful and constructive engagement, soon after Khan said in his first speech as Pakistan PM, that his first order of business would be to improve relations with India and wanted work to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue. The letter is the first formal proposal from Pakistan ever since a new government came to power last month.
This announcement comes just days after Indian diplomats at the UN Human Rights Council debated over the UN report on the situation in Kashmir and tried to shift the onus of peace-keeping to the other. During the 2+2 meet with Pompeo earlier this month, Pakistan is also reported to have approached the US to help mediate peace on the eastern border, which they felt is necessary to concentrate on the western border with Afghanistan.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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