Pak says Kashmir issue to be tackled through back-channel diplomacy

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
  • Updated: Jul 11, 2015 20:53 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, Russia on Friday. (PTI Photo)

Pakistan has said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have agreed during their meeting in Russia to address contentious issues like Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek through Track II diplomacy.

Sartaj Aziz, Sharif’s advisor on national security and foreign affairs, was quoted by the influential Dawn newspaper as saying that the two sides had, during their meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Ufa, had “agreed to take up these issues under the backchannel Track II mechanism for better understanding of each other’s point of view”.

Aziz further said the two Prime Ministers were of the opinion that lasting peace could only be ensured by addressing outstanding issues like Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek.

The state-run APP news agency, however, quoted Aziz as saying that the two sides had “discussed taking up these matters under the backchannel Track II mechanism” to develop a better understanding.

During their meeting on Friday, Modi and Sharif agreed on five points to take forward the stalled bilateral relationship, including meetings of the National Security Advisors and top security officials of the two sides to discuss terrorism and the situation along the Line of Control, which has witnessed a spike in hostilities.

Sharif was widely criticised by Pakistan’s opposition parties because the joint statement issued after the meeting contained no reference to the Kashmir issue, which was recently described by Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif as the “unfinished agenda” of the Partition.

Aziz told reporters in Ufa that both sides believed peace in the region is vital for progress. He said like Prime Minister Sharif, Modi too believed in fighting poverty and not each other.

He said the first priority is to lessen friction on the Line of Control and it was agreed to activate the mechanism of meetings between India’s Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers.

Aziz said the meeting was “very useful in lessening tension" and for better understanding of each other's point of view, which can lead to further progress in the days ahead.

But even as the two sides were holding talks in Ufa, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, a close aide of Sharif, said India will be given a befitting response in “case of any border violation”.

Responding to a calling attention notice in the Senate or upper house of parliament regarding the destruction of homes and infrastructure along the international border due shelling from the Indian side, Dar said Pakistan wants a peaceful neighbourhood but that “doesn't mean we will take it for granted".

Dar, who was speaking on behalf of the defence minister, said the shelling had been raised through the DGMO and Foreign Office with the Indian government and Pakistani forces had always given a befitting response.

Pakistan is an atomic power and "we will not disappoint you in any circumstances", he added.

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