External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about India’s commitment to good neighbourly relations during their meet on Wednesday, a spokesperson said.
Swaraj called on Sharif on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad.
“Conveying India’s commitment to good neighbourly relations, EAM @SushmaSwaraj calls on PM Nawaz Sharif,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted after the meeting along with pictures of the two leaders.
Dawn online said Swaraj and Sharif discussed a range of bilateral issues during the meeting.
Earlier on Wednesday, Swaraj extended India’s hand of friendship to Pakistan at the conference. “It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation,” she said in her address.
“For its part, India is prepared to move our cooperation at a pace which Pakistan is comfortable with,” she added.
This is the first ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since then external affairs minister SM Krishna visited the South Asian neighbour in 2012.
At the conference, India called for rooting out all sanctuaries and safe havens used by terrorists and extremists active in Afghanistan as part of measures to ensure reconciliation and lasting peace in the war-torn country.
Swaraj also said India is willing to work with Pakistan to boost connectivity and transit trade with Afghanistan.
Swaraj used the Heart of Asia forum, launched by 14 countries in 2011, to flag India’s concerns about restrictions imposed by Pakistan on transit trade with Afghanistan. The “Heart of Asia”, she said, cannot “function if arteries are clogged”.
Under the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit and Trade Agreement (APTTA) finalised in 2011, Pakistan stops Afghan trucks carrying goods to India at its checkpoint at Wagah and prevents them from driving to the Indian checkpoint at Attari, located just a kilometre away. The Afghan trucks are also forced to return empty without carrying any goods from India. This has become an irritant in ties between Islamabad and Kabul.
Swaraj said India is willing to work with Pakistan to change things in the realm of trade. “Let me take this opportunity to extend our hand to Pakistan as well. It is time that we display the maturity and self-confidence to do business with each other and strengthen regional trade and cooperation,” she said.
India is prepared to move cooperation at a “pace which Pakistan is comfortable with”. She added: “But today, let us at least resolve to help Afghanistan – in the best traditions of good neighbourliness – through more effective transit arrangements.”