Indian PM Modi likely to visit Pakistan next year
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan next year as he would attend the SAARC summit, according to the top foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz. \”We are fully hopeful that the Indian Prime Minister will come to Pakistan for the SAARC summit,\” Sartaj Aziz said in Islamabad.
Pakistan will host the summit of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) in 2016, of which India is a member along with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
India is yet to confirm the PM Modi’s visit to Pakistan next year or even before.
Indian PM Modi last year had suspended planned talks with Pakistan in August after Pakistani ambassador met Kashmiri separatist leaders in New Delhi.
Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Pakistan last week as part of his trip to the SAARC member states, and the visit has raised hopes for the resumption of the official bilateral talks. That was the first high level diplomatic contact between the two countries in seven months.
Sartaj Aziz said that although the visit of the Indian foreign secretary was in the reference of the SAARC countries, both sides used the opportunity to discuss bilateral issues.
Pakistan’s foreign secretary would visit India for more talks if the Indian government extends invitation, he told reporters after a conference of the Muslim Think Tanks Forum of Islamic Countries. \”Our foreign secretary would visit India whenever they invite us,\” he said and emphasized that there should be progress and both sides should explore ways to make progress on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).
Sartaj Aziz viewed the lack of trust between Pakistan and India as a major issue and said there would be progress on other issues if trust is gradually restored.
However, Aziz has not said if the bilateral relations would improve with PM Modi’s visit, if at all, in 2016.
Unless Kashmir issue is solved there is no scope for any credible improvement of Indo-Pakistan ties, except perhaps a bit of cross border trade as both do not really trust if their lip service CBMs would in fact do the magic.