Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and Narendra Modi of India might meet in Kazakhstan, a top Pakistani official has said, amid reports of back channel contacts.
Sartaj Azia, advisor to Sharif, said that a meeting between the two leaders cannot be ruled out on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit next month in Kazakhstan.
But it was too early to speak about such a meeting, the Nation newspaper quoted him as saying on Wednesday. “Pakistan could consider the meeting if interest was shown from the other side”.
Aziz said the SCO Summit was important as Pakistan would become a permanent member of the organisation.
The report said there was widespread speculation about a possible Sharif-Modi meeting after the Pakistani Prime Minister recently met Indian business tycoon Sajjan Jindal, who “reportedly conveyed a message of the Indian premier to the Pakistani leader”.
Aziz said Pakistan was reviewing India’s plea against alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence and also the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in the case.
The Nation quoted unnamed senior Pakistani foreign office officials as saying that diplomatic efforts had been launched to defuse tensions along the borders with its immediate neighbours.
“There have been overt and covert talks with all the countries (Iran, Afghanistan and India),” an official was quoted as saying.
“Nobody can afford confrontation, so we are trying to resolve the misunderstandings through talks,” the official said.
He said that while there had been open talks with Iran and Afghanistan, “back-channels were being used in India’s case”.
The unnamed official added that if Modi and Sharif do meet on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, “it will be positive to concentrate on the talks process”.
Relations between India and Pakistan have touched a new low after a Pakistani military court awarded death sentence to Indian “spy” Jadhav and two Indian soldiers were beheaded on the Jammu and Kashmir border.