press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
The latest militant attacks in Kashmir prove that terror elements can strike any time. But they underscore the fact that India’s diplomatic machinery cannot be swayed by every act of provocation by a terror group. Indeed, a number of developments show that India is silently warming to Pakistan.
Confirming the continued forward move by India, a Pakistani diplomat told The Hindu on Thursday that India has agreed to allow Pakistani officials to travel to Bhopal to meet Mohammed Ramzan, a teenager from Karachi who is stranded in Bhopal due to a tragic set of circumstances. “We are happy to convey that we will soon be able to visit Ramzan in Bhopal and unite him with his mother,” the Pakistani diplomat said.
He said the Indian permission came in the backdrop of the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Bhopal, where she met Ramzan on November 22. Following the meeting, the Minister had tweeted her intent to send Ramzan back to his mother in Karachi if Pakistan accepted him as a citizen. Pakistani sources said the Minister’s personal intervention for Ramzan convinced them of a genuine official desire to continue dealing with the humanitarian issues between both sides with urgency. Ms. Swaraj’s intervention has also built up hope that she might finally visit Islamabad on December 7 to attend the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan.
India’s unofficial desire to keep dialogue channels open was also felt in the big Track II meeting held in Delhi between November 19 and 21. The meeting, organised by Sherry Rehman of the Jinnah Institute of Karachi along with Indian partners, was attended by several leading public figures from both sides and focussed on how to restart the stalled dialogue process.
Pakistan’s noted journalist and peace activist Marvi Sirmed, who was one of the participants at the Track II meeting, said that such meetings earlier used to take place in Bangkok and Istanbul to build momentum for bilateral talks. “But the fact that India allowed Jinnah Institute to hold a major brainstorming of this nature in the heart of New Delhi shows that India too understands that finally, bilateral talks are necessary to keep India-Pakistan relationship in working condition and to maintain stability in South Asia,” Ms. Sirmed told The Hindu at the venue of the conference which also deliberated on possible meeting grounds on water-related disputes.
Participants at the meeting also focussed on the fact that despite the cancellation of concert series by Ghulam Ali in India, Track II channels were kept open to help restart diplomacy at an appropriate moment.
In the backdrop of these Track II events, BCCI and PCB officials met in Dubai and agreed to play a short bilateral cricket series in ‘neutral’ Sri Lanka. Earlier, former PCB chief Najam Sethi had told The Hindu that India was stopping the cricket series from taking place in December. Now it seems the series will take place before the year-end. PCB announced the series in Pakistan, while its website described the BCCI-PCB talks in Dubai as “fruitful”.
Ms. Sirmed pointed out that a bilateral cricket will be a major ice-breaker and the decision to play cricket was a big step, which will help official diplomacy in the long run. India had earlier cancelled the August talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan when Pakistan insisted on taking up Kashmir issue at the talks. The next round of official talks which are expected, if the positive trend is maintained, will be at the Foreign Secretary level.
The Track II dialogue of November 21 also indicated that the talks at the level of the foreign secretaries will be the best way to re-start the now suspended bilateral official talks.
Ms. Swaraj left for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta on Thursday, while sources maintained that there is an “atmosphere of hope” around India-Pakistan ties.
From: The Hindu