The Indian foreign secretary on Tuesday declined to provide dates for his Islamabad visit to set a timeframe for the comprehensive bilateral dialogue and urged Pakistan to first show progress in the Pathankot attack investigation.
“I am ready to give the dates now, but show the progress made on Pathankot investigation,” foreign secretary S Jaishankar is learnt to have told his Pakistani counterpart, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.
Jaishankar said the Pathankot attack was “not of India’s making”, and progress in the investigation was necessary before their meeting in Islamabad, sources told HT.
Chaudhry was also assured that the Indian government was keen to engage with Pakistan, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his surprise visit to Lahore in December last year too had said “he would be back for talks soon”.
The Pakistan government is analysing inputs from the joint investigative agency on the Pathankot attack, said Chaudhry. He also did not question the evidence shared so far by India at the meeting, sources said.
The Pathankot airbase attack of January 2 continues to cast a shadow on the peace process. India blames Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack and has stepped up efforts to impose sanctions on the outfit’s chief through the United Nations Sanctions Committee.
Nonetheless, Pakistan sending its foreign secretary to the meeting of regional states on Afghanistan — Heart of Asia meeting — reflects the neighbours’ interest in continuing dialogue, formally or otherwise.
After the meeting, the possibility of a joint statement was explored but ruled out in the absence of consensus, sources said. Separate statements were subsequently released.
However, both sides agreed to maintain contact and assured of their leaderships’ resolve to improve ties. Among other issues, the two foreign secretaries also discussed the need to expand the list of religious places the citizens of both countries can visit.