ISLAMABAD: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Pakistan next year to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit, whereas dates for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit are being worked out.
Talking to reporters after attending a two-day conference at the 6th Think Tank Forum of Islamic Countries that concluded on Sunday, Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, said: “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will certainly visit Pakistan next year.”
Pakistan will host the Saarc summit in 2016. Saarc is an organisation of countries located in South Asia, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
About Pak-India relations, Mr Aziz said that the recent foreign secretaries’ meeting had paved the way for formal talks between the two sides, adding: “All matters of common interest will be included in the talks, whenever they are started.”
Last year, India suspended talks with Pakistan slated for August after a Pakistani envoy met Kashmiri leaders in New Delhi.
Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar visited Pakistan last week as part of a trip to Saarc member states, and the visit has raised hopes for the resumption of bilateral talks.
This was the first high-level diplomatic contact between the two countries in seven months.
The adviser said that although the Indian foreign secretary’s visit was on a Saarc agenda, both sides had used the opportunity to discuss bilateral issues.
Sartaj sees thaw in India-Pakistan ties
“Our foreign secretary would visit India whenever they invite us,” he said, adding that there should be progress and both sides should explore ways to build on confidence-building measures.
The adviser said that the then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Pakistan in Feb 1999, but soon after, the Kargil war between the two countries and the military takeover in Pakistan spoiled all efforts to create better bilateral ties.
Mr Aziz termed the lack of trust between Pakistan and India a major issue and said there would be progress on other issues if trust was gradually restored.
Talking about President Xi’s visit to Pakistan, he said that dates for the trip were being worked out. “The Chinese president will not visit Pakistan on March 23,” he said.
In September last year, the Chinese president postponed his trip to Pakistan due to “security reasons” at a time when protesters were camped outside the Parliament House.
Earlier, speaking at an event organised by the Think Tank Forum, the adviser said Pakistan was fighting a “decisive war” against terrorists and the whole nation was united on the issue.
“The entire Muslim world should support Pakistan in the war on terror,” he urged.
Published in Dawn March 9th , 2015