India, Pak Foreign Secretary level talks likely in February

NAYANIMA BASU New Delhi | Updated on January 19, 2018

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar

New Delhi appraising the progress made on probe on Pathankot attack

The much-hyped Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan may finally be held in February in Islamabad, even as both sides are still discussing the progress made in investigations on the Pathankot terrorist attack, which has stalled the dialogue.

“The discussion that both Foreign Secretaries will have is on the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, in which terrorism is a crucial element. So, we have to sit and discuss all the issues regarding countering terrorism in the region. Since the talks are going to be on terror, how can we cancel it … It will not happen this month due to scheduling issues, but next month it is likely,” a top official told BusinessLine.

The official also said with the upcoming visit of French President Francois Hollande, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar was not able to finalise a date for the talks. Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, it is learnt, will be travelling later in the month.

The official said both Foreign Secretaries are in touch with each other over phone and will be finalising a date soon.

“We have asked them to take some concrete steps on the actionable intelligence provided by us. Our leads pointed toward Jaish-e-Mohammad and that is why they took action against it. They (Pakistan) have taken some positive steps. We cannot benefit by having a confrontational attitude. We have to talk on terror,” the official added.

There is even a likelihood of the venue being shifted to New Delhi.

On the issue of Pakistan sending a Special Investigation Team here to probe the Pathankot attack, the official said while the final details are yet to be discussed, “we reserve our options. We will cooperate with them in every possible way, but we cannot let them enter the main air base,” the official said. This was also stated by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar last week.

On Thursday, Qazi M Khalilullah, spokesperson at Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said the meeting will take place in the “very near future” and “both sides are in contact in this regard.”

Meanwhile, a section of the media is blaming India for the terrorist attack in Pakistan’s Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, which is linking it with Parrikar’s recent statement on inflicting the “pain on those who harm India.”

However, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry has said it is waiting for the investigation to get over before “blaming anyone”.

The Foreign Secretaries were scheduled to meet on January 15-16 in Islamabad, which was cancelled due to Pathankot attacks.

Published on January 22, 2016

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