A structured meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan in Russia that produced breakthrough announcements was the culmination of cautious behind-the-scenes preparations where each side agreed to meet the other halfway, officials told HT on Friday.
In the end, both countries can interpret the joint statement before their domestic audiences to say their point of view prevailed. The final stage for the talks was set when Modi called up Sharif on June 16 to extend Ramzan greetings and told him about a decision to release Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails.
Though national security adviser Ajit Doval and foreign secretary S Jaishankar had held a series of discussions with Pakistani envoys in the past few months, the decision to organise a meeting in Ufa of the two top leaders was taken this month.
Sources say officials may have felt that a neutral venue was best suited for the two prime ministers to meet with ties between the neighbouring nations hitting a trough.
Though finely couched, both sides made attempts to accommodate each other in mutual interest.
India sought the meeting as Islamabad maintained that because New Delhi decided to call off foreign secretary-level talks last year, it should take the first step.
On the 26/11 terror case, Pakistan agreed to hand over voice samples of the handlers of the attack, which is a victory for India.
Pakistan had been demanding the dialogue process be scaled up with talks between the Indian national security adviser and his counterpart on core issues after the NDA government taking office in 2014.
Now, there will be talks between the two NSAs, but on all matters related to terrorism, the core issue for India. Here too New Delhi can claim success.
An early meeting of the director-general of the Border Security Force and the officer of equivalent rank from the Pakistan Rangers will be held, which will follow talks between director generals of military operations of the two nations.
Pakistan’s core concern, Jammu and Kashmir, doesn’t figure in the joint media statement. But the two sides say the “all outstanding issues” mentioned in the release includes J-K.The meeting was a low-key affair and the customary media interactions held separately by the two sides after talks were absent. The two foreign secretaries merely read out the joint statement and did not take any questions.