Millennium Post

India plays down expectations from Foreign Secy’s Pak visit

India plays down expectations from Foreign Secy’s Pak visit
Jaishankar will be travelling to Bhutan on Sunday and go to Bangladesh next day before flying off from Dhaka to Islamabad on March three, as part of India’s initiative to reach out to SAARC countries.

With the media focus centred on the Pakistan visit which comes seven months after India had called off foreign secretary-level talks with that country, officials underlined that while the basic objective of the trip was the SAARC outreach, bilateral matters would also come up there.

“I would be surprised if there are any dramatic results in terms of bilateral ties when Jaishankar talks with the Pakistani side. How the visit impacts on the ties was difficult to predict at this point,” said an official. He pointed out that Pakistan was going to be the next chair of the 8-member SAARC. It would be important from Pakistan’s point of view to have good relations with India.

Undoubtedly Jaishankar would meet his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry. Who else he would meet there was being worked out.

Asked if the visit would lead to the bilateral dialogue being put back on track, the official said, “frankly, I do not know.”

India had cancelled foreign secretary-level talks in August last at the eleventh hour because the Pakistan High Commissioner here held consultations with Kashmiri separatists.

Using cricket diplomacy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called leaders of four SAARC nations including Pakistan which, along with India, are participating in cricket World Cup. He had conveyed best wishes to their teams. Modi spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to tell him that Jaishankar will undertake a “SAARC yatra” soon to strengthen relationship with India’s neighbourhood.

Answering questions on ties with China, officials said that the dates for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit there have not been fixed yet. Asked about India’s approach to the ties with China, they said India would “robustly” defend its security interests while favouring enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries.

They pointed out that when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in September last, it had been announced that China would set up industrial parks in India. Pune and Baroda would be the first two locations for such parks, they added.
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