New Delhi, Sept.20:
In a significant development, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking resumption of dialogue between the two nuclear-powered countries, said reports today. As a first step the Pakistani leader has called for a meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Shah Mehmood Qureshi – the Foreign Ministers of the two countries – on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York scheduled later this month.
Imran Khan’s letter is believed to have been written in response to Modi’s earlier communication to his Pakistani counterpart.
Khan’s letter is possibly the first formal proposal from Pakistan for talks with India ever since a new government came to power last month.
The two nations have not had any substantial dialogue since 2015 when Swaraj had travelled to Islamabad for Heart of Asia conference. The ties between the two countries had strained after Pakistan-based terror groups launched attacks in India in 2016.
It may be recalled that Prime Minister Modi had on August 20 called for a “meaningful and constructive” engagement between the two countries. The Prime Miister had noted that India was committed to peaceful neighbourly ties with Pakistan, official sources had said, quoting from the letter.
In his first speech after winning the general elections, the PTI chief had said that he was keen to improve relations with India and wanted to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue.
Mentioning Kashmir as the core issue of dispute between the two nations, Khan had said it was about time that the two countries sat across the table and discussed the issues of concern.
India has made it clear to Pakistan on several occasions that ties and terror would not go together.
Pakistan has confirmed that it has “engaged” with India to facilitate a bilateral meeting between Qureshi and Sushma Swaraj. Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that no decision has been taken on the issue so far.
“We are engaged in the matter,” he said when asked about reports that Qureshi and Swaraj may hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA and whether both sides have formally approached each other.
To ease tensions with India, Pakistan had also sought US help earlier this month, saying it wanted peace on the eastern border in order to concentrate on the western border with Afghanistan. During the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Qureshi had raised the issue.