Talks between the national security advisers of India and Pakistan took place on December 6 in Bangkok before foreign minister Sushma Swaraj travelled to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia summit as New Delhi had asked for the events to be held in this order.
Government sources have told HT that India wanted the parleys to resume so Swaraj had a foundation to prepare for the resumption of the composite dialogue process, which finally happened during her Pakistan visit.
South Block had earlier turned down a proposal from Pakistan for a meeting between the foreign ministers in New York in the last weeks of September, suggesting that such an exercise could prove futile without NSA-level talks preceding it as agreed between the prime ministers of the two countries at a meeting in Russia this year.
“We then heard from Pakistan that an NSA-level meeting would be difficult at this stage because retired lieutenant general Nasser Khan Janjua had just taken over the role and might not be prepared to lay the foundation for the resumption of the dialogue process,” said government sources.
Janjua was appointed Pakistan’s national security adviser in late October and Islamabad suggested that foreign secretary-level talks could be held instead.
New Delhi turned down this proposal too, but recommended that the foreign secretaries could accompany the NSAs during their interaction in Bangkok. Pakistan agreed to this offer.
“We were categorical that the NSA-level talks should happen before Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad. We appreciate that Pakistan realised its importance and agreed,” a source said.
“The dialogue process which got interrupted after the joint statement between the two prime ministers in Ufa in July, was unsuccessfully attempted to be revived in New York and finally saw the light of day in Bangkok.”
New Delhi, government leaders admit, remains sceptical about the outcome of the resumed dialogue process and has decided to refrain from presenting it as a breakthrough and seeking credit for it.
India’s prime concern behind resuming the talks was to avoid creating an impression before the international community that it was totally reluctant to speak to Pakistan.