More of the same
Irrespective of the plan speaking between India and Pakistan on key bilateral issues on Tuesday, it is amply clear that both sides have been unable to break the status quo. In the meeting between Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry on Tuesday, many issues including the probe into Pathankot terror attack, 26/11 trial, and Samjhauta Express blast investigations were discussed. In the backdrop of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference, Tuesday’s meeting saw the first formal interaction between the two nations since their scheduled talks were deferred in the wake of the Pathankot terror attack in January. However, all the headlines in the Indian media were been grabbed by Jaishankar’s firm contention that Pakistan should not be in denial over the impact of terrorism on bilateral ties while Pakistan harped on Kashmir terming it as the core issue. In response, Pakistan predictably brought up the issue of Kashmir emphasising that it remained the “core issue that requires a just solution in accordance with UNSC resolutions and wishes of Kashmiri people.” During the meeting, India also raised the issue of “abduction” of former Naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, saying he has been taken to Pakistan, and sought immediate consular access. However, in its statement, Pakistan said that Jadhav’s “capture” raised serious concern over RAW’s alleged involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi, a charge which was strongly rebutted by India. In an unprecedented move earlier this month, the Pakistan armed forces released a videotape purportedly of alleged RAW spy and former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadav confessing to having funded Baloch insurgents. New Delhi has vehemently denied the authenticity of Yadav’s ‘testimony’, which they believe was a dictated statement made under duress. The Indian government has also rejected the allegations that he was an “RAW officer” involved in “subversive activities”. But for the first time, India has categorically said Jadhav was abducted. Jaishankar also emphasised the need for early and visible progress on the Pathankot terrorist attack investigation as well as the 26/11 case trial in Pakistan. After all the heightened expectations, we are back to square one. There is no end to this monotony. In the face of allegations that Pakistani soil was used to conduct a terror attack on an Indian air force base, Islamabad has once again brought the Kashmir issue and India’s alleged involvement in Balochistan.