India and Pakistan meeting at UN to end three-year freeze

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “India and Pakistan meeting at UN to end three-year freeze” was written by Michael Safi in Delhi, for theguardian.com on Friday 21st September 2018 13.35 Asia/Kolkata

The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are to meet on the sidelines of the UN general assembly next week in the first high-level contact between the neighbours in nearly three years.

India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, will meet her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in New York during the assembly starting on Monday.

The meeting was proposed by the newly elected Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, in a letter to the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, sent earlier this month and made public on Thursday.

India stressed the interaction between the officials did not mean peace talks had resumed. “This is just a meeting,” Raveesh Kumar, the spokesman for the Indian ministry of foreign affairs said on Thursday. “This is not a resumption of dialogue. They asked for a meeting and we said yes.”

Senior officials from the nuclear-armed neighbours have had no public contact since early 2016, when nascent peace talks were suspended after militants attacked an Indian army air force base near the Pakistan border in Punjab state.

India says the attack was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad, a militant group alleged to have close ties to Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus.

Relations grew worse in September 2016, when gunmen from another Pakistan-based jihadi group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, attacked an army base in the Kashmir region, killing 18 troops.

In response, India sent elite soldiers into Pakistan territory to destroy what it said were militant staging grounds, and Modi called Pakistan a “mothership of terrorism”.

Khan, a former cricketer turned politician, peppered his campaign speeches with anti-India rhetoric but reached out to Delhi in the first days of his leadership to propose the meeting.

“Pakistan and India have an undeniably challenging relationship,” he wrote. “We, however, owe it to our peoples, especially the future generations, to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues.”

He added: “Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism.”

Pakistan’s alleged sponsorship of militant attacks, including a four-day killing spree in Mumbai by members of Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2008, is a major sticking point in relations between the countries. So is the fate of Kashmir, a Himalayan region divided between the pair but claimed in full by both.

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India and Pakistan meeting at UN to end three-year freeze - NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).