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Indo-Pak FS to meet today, discuss Pathankot terror strike

Indo-Pak FS to meet today, discuss Pathankot terror strike
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry will lead the Pakistani delegation to the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process meeting, which will be held in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Sources in the government said on the sidelines of the meet, Chaudhry will hold bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar to review the status of bilateral ties and Bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue (CBD), which is stagnant. 

This will be the first formal meeting between Jaishankar and Chaudhry, after the announcement of CBD by the Foreign Ministers in Islamabad last December. 

The two secretaries had an informal brief interaction during the SAARC meeting in Nepal in March this year.

Besides, it will be the first time that the two Foreign Secretaries will be meeting since the terror strike at the Pathankot airbase on January 2.  India has alleged the involvement of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror outfit, headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, in the attack. 

Sources said Jaishankar would raise the Pathankot issue with his Pakistani counterpart. They added that the Pakistani Foreign Secretary was also likely to have bilateral meetings with delegates from other countries.

The 14-nation Heart of Asia group was formed in 2011 and  Pakistan had played an active role in its formation. The Heart of Asia conference is Afghanistan-centric.

The Heart of Asia conference provides a common platform to member countries to discuss regional issues such as  security, economic cooperation and connectivity in Afghanistan, its neighbours and regional countries with a view to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. 

According to sources in the Pakistan High Commission, Chaudhry is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Tuesday morning and is scheduled to return to Pakistan by the evening. 

The meeting comes in the backdrop of Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s recent comment that the bilateral peace process was suspended, evoking a sharp reaction by India, which maintained that communication channels were on at various levels but also made it clear it wanted to see action on terror and Pathankot first before the dialogue could be resumed. 

Announcing Chaudhry’s visit, the Pakistan Foreign Office, in a statement in Islamabad had said, “Pakistan delegation will also hold bilateral meetings with other leading delegations attending the meeting.” 

Pakistan looks forward to active participation in the forthcoming Heart of Asia meeting, reflecting “our commitment to efforts for promoting long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan”, it added.

Pakistan had hosted the fifth Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Islamabad on December 9, 2015.

It must be noted that a Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had visited India this month to probe the Pathankot airbase attack, in which seven security personnel lost their lives. The foreign secretary-level talks have been hanging by a fine thread even though both sides have maintained that they have been in touch and the dialogue would be held at a mutually convenient date. 
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