ISLAMABAD: In a welcome development, which will go a long way in de-escalating the present tensions which have led to a war-like scenario between Pakistan and India, senior diplomats of both sides met at the Foreign Office on Tuesday where significant announcements were made.
It has been agreed that delegations from both countries will visit each other’s country for talks on the Kartarpur Corridor and high commissioners will also resume duty at their respective stations.
The delegation from Pakistan led by Dr Mohammad Faisal, Director General South Asia and Saarc, will visit New Delhi on March 14 to discuss further, hoping to take more steps to finalise the draft agreement of the Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Narowal.
An Indian delegation is expected to visit Islamabad on a return visit on March 28. Diplomatic engagements have been continuing between the two capitals even though tensions remain high.
According to the Foreign Office, Indian Acting High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tuesday by Dr Muhammad Faisal and he was also conveyed that Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Sohail Mehmood will be returning to New Delhi after completing consultations here and that Pakistan remains committed to continue the weekly contact between the two Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs).
Initially, eyebrows were raised when the Foreign Office said that the senior Indian diplomat had been ‘invited’ to the ministry, as normally they are ‘summoned’. But later a change in wording of statement was made and it was said that Gaurav Ahluwalia had been ‘called in’ to the Foreign Office.
While there have been several announcements made by the Modi government to cut off ties with Pakistan including striking Pakistan off the MFN list, the functioning of the Kartarpur Corridor is one which was left untouched. On the eve of elections, the BJP could ill afford to annoy the Sikh community, which is geared to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November this year.
Pakistan says that it is in a spirit of constructive engagement that it has proposed to India that delegations from both sides should meet in each other’s capitals. Pakistan has appointed Dr Muhammad Faisal as focal person and requested India to designate a focal person at its end. Pakistan has also invited India to urgently send a delegation to Islamabad to negotiate and finalise the agreement.
Meanwhile, given the escalation at the Line of Control (LoC), it is a welcome development that Pakistan had signalled that it is ready to continue with the Tuesday contact on the special hotline which was set up last year between the DGMOs of Pakistan and India in a bid to defuse the volatile situation along the Working Boundary and the LoC. The DGMOs had mutually agreed to undertake sincere measures to improve the existing situation ensuring peace and avoidance of hardships to the civilians along the borders.
The senior officials agreed to “fully implement the ceasefire understanding of 2003 in letter and spirit forthwith and to ensure that henceforth the ceasefire will not be violated by both sides”.