“We are finalising dates through diplomatic channels for the upcoming foreign secretary level talks,” said Qazi Khailullah, the spokesman for the Foreign Office.
The FO spokesman elaborated and stated that the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan during their meeting in Islamabad will finalise a schedule of meetings of various segments of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue in accordance with the joint statement issued on December 9.
“Pakistan and India have serious issues and outstanding disputes that need to be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy,” said Khalilullah while responding to a question.
In reference to Afghanistan, the FO spokesman said that dates are also being finalised for hosting of the first meeting of the quadrilateral coordination committee comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, US and China in Islamabad, which is expected in the second half of January.
Answering a separate question regarding the presence of the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Pakistan, Khalilullah said that IS has no presence in Pakistan, and the security forces of the country are fully alert and capable of handling any emerging threat.
Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan. The Indian premier was returning back to the sub-continent after inaugurating the new parliament building in Kabul, Afghanistan. The parliament building was touted as a gift from India to Afghanistan.
The last meeting between Modi and Nawaz took place in November on the sidelines of the 21st UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the two premiers exchanged pleasantries and had a friendly chat.
Breakthrough at ‘Heart of Asia’
In the meeting held between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and India’s Swaraj on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference earlier in December, the Indian minister had confirmed that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Pakistan next year.
Pakistan and India have also agreed to reinitiate a comprehensive dialogue process, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said during a joint press conference along with the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz.
Both Swaraj and Aziz on the occasion had also condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate in order to eliminate the menace.
The dialogue process, which will start as soon as foreign secretaries agree on a schedule, will include matters related to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism.
Earlier, the opening of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in the capital was marked by a warm welcome from Pakistani authorities to visiting dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, China among other Asian countries.
In her speech, Swaraj focused on increased connectivity, regional trade and openness with Afghanistan, and also “extended India’s hand towards Pakistan” in this regard.
The national security advisers of Pakistan and India met for a brief and unannounced meeting in Bangkok last week, which was followed up by an informal and short meeting between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India.
The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily