ISLAMABAD - Foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on August 25 to carry forward the dialogue process between the two countries.
Foreign Secretary of India Sujatha Singh spoke to her Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry over telephone on Wednesday to confirm the meeting that could lead to resumption of the peace process stalled since January 2013.
According to Foreign Office, during the conversation, the meeting date was agreed in keeping with the vision of the two prime ministers – Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi – who met in New Delhi this year to improve and establish good neighbourly relations. The two secretaries also agreed that dialogue process between the two countries should be result-oriented.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited New Delhi on the invitation of the Indian government and participated in the oath taking ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Later the two leaders held an important meeting clearly supporting resumption of peace process between the two countries.
Pakistan diplomatic sources told The Nation that foreign secretaries would revisit the composite dialogue process to re-prioritise the agenda for future talks. They said both sides would review the progress of the working groups and set the course for future talks with addition of few more items including water issue as one of the key agenda items.
AFP adds: “Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh spoke to her Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry over the telephone this afternoon and... it was agreed that the two foreign secretaries would meet in Islamabad on August 25 to carry forward the dialogue process,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Bilateral relations broke down after attacks by alleged Pakistani gunmen on India’s commercial hub Mumbai in 2008, in which 166 people were killed, though relations have recovered slightly since then. An unresolved territorial dispute over Kashmir in the Himalayan region is also a source of ongoing tension, while Pakistan accuses India of fomenting a separatist insurgency in its southwestern province of Balochistan.
Trade between the two countries is presently around $2.5 billion, with Indian exports accounting for the majority. Pakistani business leaders believe greater trade would be a major boon to their stuttering economy – though according to reports some sections of society and military are against such a move.
The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, as well as a smaller conflict in 1999 when Modi’s party was last in office at the national level and Sharif was in power during a previous stint as premier.
Indians shoot dead mentally
Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: The Indian Border Security Force gunned down a mentally retarded Pakistani youth who had mistakenly crossed the border in Shakargarh Sector a couple of days ago.
According to the Pakistan Rangers spokesman, Iftikhar had crossed into the Indian side a couple of days back. The BSF shot him dead and handed over the body to Pakistan Rangers Punjab on July 22.
The Rangers spokesman said the BSF have been violating the ceasefire for the last many years. Local people of the area on Wednesday protested against the BSF’s firing along with the Working Boundary and human rights violation. They said that the BSF should have arrested Iftikhar alive as he was carrying no weapon. They also expressed concerns over the post-mortem of Iftikhar conducted in India.
One of the family members of Iftikhar said that he was under medical treatment at Punjab Institute of Mental Health for the last 2 years and his last check-up was conducted on Jun 25, 2014. He said Iftikhar went missing on 21 July and when his family members searched him in village Nangal and Karol, they were informed that Iftikhar was seen going towards the border.
Afterwards, the BSF was contacted regarding Iftikhar but their reply was in negative.