External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is travelling to Islamabad on Tuesday to participate in a regional conference on Afghanistan, apart from meeting prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
She will also meet the Pakistan prime minister’s advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, though both countries struggled to agree on a framework to continue the process of re-engagement set in motion by the NSA talks in Bangkok.
“This is a good beginning. The deadlock that was present has to some extent been removed,” Aziz was quoted as saying in the Pakistani media.
Matters of conflict between Pakistan and India would be discussed in the meeting and a road map would be devised to resume the composite bilateral dialogue during the visit, he said.
The US has welcomed the “normalisation of relations” between both countries and Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan.
“We are pleased that Pakistan is hosting the Heart of Asia Summit. We are also encouraged that President Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan), Indian minister of external affairs Swaraj, and other senior officials will be attending,” a state department spokesperson said in Washington.
Cricket lovers in both countries too would be keenly watching the outcome of her visit with the cricket boards in both countries saying they will abide by a government decision on a bilateral series.
“Informally, we have been told (by the Indian high commissioner)that foreign minister Sushma Swaraj will come out with a brief on this issue, which will be discussed government to government. So we are awaiting that now,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan said.
This is the first ministerial level visit to Pakistan after Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister.
Swaraj’s visit comes three years after former external affairs minister SM Krishna travelled to Islamabad in 2012 when the countries also inked a visa liberalisation pact.
During her visit, Swaraj will be accompanied by foreign secretary S Jaishankar, who was also present during the meeting between Doval and Janjua in the Thai capital.
The invite to Swaraj was reportedly pending for more than a month, with media reports saying the the plans were finalised after the meeting of Modi and Sharif in Paris on November 30.
(With agency inputs)