NEW DELHI: As the
ceasefire joint statement
sparked speculation that India was planning to resume
ministry of external affairs
(MEA) clarified that on "key issues" the government’s position hadn’t changed.
However, there was some visible toning down of rhetoric with government refraining from elaborating its position on the issue of cross-border terrorism when asked about the outcome of the
review Thursday of Pakistan’s case on terror-financing.
Official sources also didn’t rule out the possibility of more steps in the near future to improve bilateral ties, that have shown no sign of thawing for years, if Pakistan worked seriously to address some of India’s concerns.
"India desires peaceful and neighbourly ties with Pakistan. Our position always has been that we are committed to addressing issues, if any, in a peaceful and bilateral manner On key issues, our position remains unchanged and I don’t think I need to reiterate it," said spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
India has maintained that it sees cross-border terrorism perpetrated by state and non-state actors as the core issue and that Pakistan must rein in
groups using its soil to target India for any substantive engagement between the 2 countries.
Special assistant to Pakistan PM on national security Moeed Yusuf denied though that the joint statement came on the back of backchannel negotiations between him and NSA Ajit Doval. Yusuf said the development on LoC was a result of discussions through the established channel of DGMOs.
"Obviously these are by their very nature not in the public eye and done privately and professionally through the direct channel,’’ he tweeted, denying reports in Indian media that he had spoken to Doval.
The Pakistan official was also quoted as saying in Islamabad that a lot of efforts had gone into the agreement for LoC peace and that it would hopefully lead to opening of more avenues in bilateral ties in the future.
India and Pakistan had in December, 2015, launched a comprehensive bilateral dialogue process for addressing all outstanding issues, including terrorism and Kashmir. While the development saw PM Narendra Modi famously "dropping by" in Lahore weeks later, the dialogue could never take off because of the Pathankot airbase terror attack a week after Modi’s visit.
Pakistan and a few other Saarc countries want India to drop its opposition to the pending Saarc summit, the venue for which is Islamabad, but official sources here said it’s too early to say if it will lead to any meaningful engagement.
India had only on Wednesday called upon Pakistan at UN Human Rights Council to take credible and irreversible steps to end state-sponsored terrorism and dismantle terrorist infrastructure in the territories under its control.
There were signs though, starting with Pakistan army chief Qamar Bajwa’s remark that Pakistan was ready to extend the hand of friendship in all directions, that Islamabad was finally realising its relentless campaign to malign India internationally after the revocation of the special status of J&K had run its course. Following up on Bajwa’s comment, Pakistan PM
had invited Modi to the "table of dialogue’’ saying it was the only viable solution.
Pakistan of course couched the joint statement Thursday in different terms with Yusuf describing it as a win for Pakistan because, he claimed, India was reluctant to agree to any ceasefire.
“This is a victory of diplomacy and, God willing, more avenues will open in the future,” he was quoted as saying. Significantly, Yusuf had claimed in an interview last year that Pakistan had got a message for a “desire for conversation”. India had officially denied this saying no such message had been send to Pakistan.