Pakistani, Indian foreign secretaries may meet next month

Islamabad, Jan 24 (IANS) The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India are expected to meet next month, a senior official has said.

There was an understanding between the two sides for a meeting in February, but its dates have not been finalised, the official said on Saturday.

The January 15 meeting, which had to decide the timetable and modalities of the resumed peace dialogue, was postponed after a terrorist attack on India’s air base at Pathankot in north Punjab.

The January 2 attack on Pathankot airbase left seven security personnel killed. A total of six terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, were also killed.

India blamed Pakistan based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) for the attack and linked the resumption of the foreign secretaries’ meeting to an action by Pakistan against the group.

Senior officials from both the sides have been in touch for rescheduling the meeting, Dawn online reported.

Pakistan formed a team to investigate the evidence provided by India about JeM’s involvement.

The crackdown that came a day before the foreign secretaries were scheduled to meet was welcomed by New Delhi as “important and positive first step”, but it could not prevent the meeting getting postponed.

A statement on the deferment of the meeting, jointly issued by Islamabad and New Delhi, said: “Pakistan and India have agreed to reschedule Foreign Secretary-level talks in the very near future.”

The official said the foreign secretaries’ meeting next month would prove that the terrorist act had failed to quash the momentum for normalisation of ties generated by leaderships of both the countries.

Meanwhile, the planned visit of a team of Pakistani investigators to Pathankot has not been scheduled as yet.

“The team would first present its findings to the government, which would then decide about the visit,” a source in the interior ministry said.

Although an announcement has been made, the government is yet to approach India with a proposal for the trip, which would also give details of the terms of reference and objectives of the investigation team’s visit.

Indian external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup earlier this week said: “We continue to closely follow on the progress in the investigation in Pakistan on the Pathankot terrorist attack… We continue to expect robust action by Pakistan against all the perpetrators.”

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