India, Pakistan Agree to Talks on Peace, Jammu & Kashmir

Adeel Shah
151209-india-620 Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, left, is greeted by Indian and Pakistani officials upon her arrival at the military Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi, Dec. 8, 2015.

Breaking a 16-month logjam in bilateral ties, India and Pakistan on Wednesday decided to resume a comprehensive dialogue, as both sides agreed to include peace and the disputed Jammu & Kashmir region in future talks.

The breakthrough came as Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met with her Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, on the sidelines of a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.

A joint statement after the dialogue indicated that terror-related issues dominated the 105-minute proceedings.

“They [Swaraj and Aziz] noted the successful talks on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok by the two [National Security Advisers] and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism,” the statement said.

The meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministries came just days after the national security advisers held secret talks in Bangkok on Sunday.

A brief encounter between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharif at the U.N climate change summit in Paris on Nov. 30 is believed to have broken the ice between the two sides. India and Pakistan have sparred over terrorism, cross-border ceasefire violations, and Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region in the Himalayas claimed by both countries.

In addition, India and Pakistan will resume talking on confidence-building measures, economic and commercial cooperation, narcotics control, religious tourism and humanitarian issues, the statement said.

Pakistan has assured India of “steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion” of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which has been one of the major sticking points between the two countries, according to the statement.

The attacks, claimed by Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), killed more than 160 people. Its masterminds, who allegedly monitored the attacks from Pakistan, are being tried in a court in that country.

India: LeT operative arrested

The breakthrough in discussions came even as officers of India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) claimed to have arrested a LeT operative at the Mumbai airport on Wednesday.

The accused, identified as Asadullah Khan, is accused of “conspiring to kill prominent people” in Karnataka state’s Bengaluru and Hubli cities in 2012, according to the NIA.

The arrest comes close on the heels of a near three-week combing operation to flush out suspected LeT militants in the Kupwara region of Kashmir.

Indian police also claim to have arrested five people in connection with a spying racket, in which the suspects, all of whom are Indian nationals, allegedly provided sensitive information to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

An analyst applauded the resumption of talks between the two nations.

“The outcome of today’s talks is positive. I am hopeful that talks will go further,” Uttara Sahasrabuddhe, professor for International Politics at the University of Mumbai, told BenarNews.

“India has now benefited by getting assurance from the Pakistani side for the trial of those involved in the Mumbai attacks,” she said, adding that it was a step forward in diplomatic ties that both sides agreed to include the Kashmir issue in future talks.


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