India and Pakistan revive Track II dialogues
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – India and Pakistan held a Track-2 dialogue in Islamabad after a long gap, indicating a probable shift in views on both sides towards such an initiative, to address a wide range of issues that are causing concern despite the strained relations that exist between the two countries.
According to Indian media reports, the meeting was a revival of the Neemrana dialogue among former diplomats and military officials on both sides.
The initiative was resuscitated after an Indian delegation of former diplomats, army veterans and academics, headed by former External Affairs Secretary Vivek Katju, traveled across the border and met a group of Pakistanis led by Inam-ul-Haq, who occupied some of the highest posts while working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, until his retirement. Senior former Indian diplomats Vivek Katju and Rakesh Sood attended the meet.
Neemrana Dialogue was the first and one of the most notable Track II initiatives. It was launched at the Neemrana Fort in Rajasthan, India, in October 1991. It also resulted in the emergence of similar programs designed to normalize relations between the two bitter South Asian neighbors.
“There have been other Track II initiatives, but these were mostly funded by third parties. Neemrana had more India-Pakistan character,” said former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, T.C.A. Raghavan.
The newspaper reported that the meeting was held from April 28 to April 30 in Pakistan. The newspaper also claimed that New Delhi was going to observe and assess the result of Pakistan’s 2018 general elections before deciding to open official channels and resume the dialogue between the two countries.
“Pakistan is absolutely in favor of improving relations with India on the basis of equality, mutual interests and respect,” said former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, while talking to Arab News. “Starting a process of dispute resolution requires political will, which exists in Pakistan.”
Relations between the South Asian nuclear neighbors have been low for a significantly long period: Some of the issues that have come to plague them, such as harassment of diplomats, have been addressed and resolved, though others, such as border skirmishes, have escalated.
An informal dialogue was held recently between the national security advisers of India and Pakistan to reduce tensions in the region.