Contact between the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan, which had emerged as a key channel of communication against the backdrop of frayed ties, has snapped for almost three months now, government sources said on Monday.
The two top security officials have not spoken since Pakistan’s NSA Nasser Khan Janjua called his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval late in March to inform him of the arrest of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, three sources familiar with the issue told Hindustan Times. Two of the sources are in Pakistan and the third in India.
“There has been no contact between the two NSAs since then, either on phone or through other channels,” one of the Pakistani sources said.
The Indian source said New Delhi had taken a dim view of the Pakistani military’s decision to name the Indian NSA as one of the “handlers” controlling Jadhav at a news conference on March 29.
The contact between the NSAs had assumed importance because the dialogue between the two countries had stalled shortly after the Modi government came to power over the Pakistani envoy’s meetings with Kashmiri separatists.
Their interactions had also resulted in the sharing of information on possible terror attacks. Just days before the last conversation between Janjua and Doval, the Pakistani NSA had provided an unprecedented alert to his Indian counterpart on March 5 about possible fidayeen attacks in Gujarat during Maha Shivratri.
On April 7, Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit had said the dialogue with India was “suspended” as there were no plans for the foreign secretaries to meet.
Janjua and Doval first met secretly in Bangkok on December 6, taking the media in India and Pakistan by surprise. That four-and-a-half hour meeting paved the way for external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia summit a few days later.
The contacts between the NSAs was an initiative whereby “both sides felt they could chart a new route”, said Commodore (retired) C Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies.
“The Pakistani military has reasserted its position of primacy and is not going to allow any form of independent contact or line of communication with India,” he said.
Referring to a recent meeting of cabinet ministers chaired by Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters, Bhaskar said, “We know who’s calling the shots. It’s a reiteration of the familiar pattern of the Pakistani military demonstrating the subalternity to which the civilian establishment has been reduced.”