New Delhi, Jan 3: Exterl Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday met here with two former foreign secretaries and four former envoys to Pakistan as the government sought wider consultation over its policy towards Pakistan in the wake of the terror attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot that claimed 13 lives, including those of seven Indian security personnel. Sushma Swaraj met with Shiv Shankar Menon, former foreign secretary and tiol security adviser; Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary; Satinder Lambah, former envoy to Pakistan and former special envoy to the prime minister who conducted back channel talks with Pakistan; and three former envoys to Pakistan, T.C.A. Raghavan, Sharad Sabharwal and Satyabrata Pal. Raghavan, who retired as India’s high commissioner to Pakistan on December 31, was present when Prime Minister rendra Modi made his surprise stopover in Lahore to greet Pakistani Prime Minister waz Sharif on his birthday.
Ministry officials refrained from giving details of Sunday’s meeting. Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore had siglled a thaw in India-Pakistan relations but Saturday’s Pathankot terror attack is seen as an attempt by forces across the border to derail the proposed foreign secretary-level talks in Islamabad in the middle of this month. Modi’s visit was the culmition of a series of diplomatic engagements between the two South Asian neighbours starting from November 30 last year when he had a seemingly impromptu meeting with Sharif at the Paris climate summit.
Following this, on December 6, Indian tiol Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart seer Khan Janjua held a meeting in Bangkok which was also attended by Foreign Secretaries S. Jaishankar and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. Two days later, Sushma Swaraj landed in Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia conference which engages “heart of Asia” countries for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. On December 9, she told the media there that Modi would visit Islamabad next year to attend the South Asian Association for Regiol Cooperation (Saarc) summit. Then, after a courtesy call on Sharif, she held a bilateral with his advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz. The two then came out with a joint statement in which Pakistan assured India that all steps were being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack trial.
“Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a comprehensive bilateral dialogue and directed the the foreign secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the dialogue, including peace and security, CBMs (confidence buildins measures), Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul vigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, rcotics control, humanitarian issues, people-to-people exchanges and religious tourism,” the statement said. Even as the stage was being set for the foreign secretary-level meeting between the two sides came the Pathankot attack that is being deemed as an attack on the softening of ties between New Delhi and Islamabad. (IANS)