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Resume Foreign Secretary-level talks: Pak to India

Sartaj Aziz

Lahore: Pakistan has called on India to resume foreign secretary-level talks to resolve all outstanding issues, saying with peace the menace of poverty, illiteracy and injustice in the region can be eradicated.

“Although the Indian Foreign Secretary visited Pakistan on March 3 this year but it was ‘a goodwill gesture’. The formal talks have yet to resume,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said.

Aziz made the remarks at a seminar titled ‘Muslim-Sikh Dosti Di Tarjman —- Baisakhi (Baisakhi represents Muslim-Sikh friendship)’ here at the Lahore Fort last evening.

“Pakistan believes in peace in the region and desires to initiate dialogue on all issues with India. If there will be peace, we all can eradicate the menace of poverty, illiteracy and injustice in the region,” he said.

He urged India to resume the process of dialogue as agreed by the two premiers –- Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi — during their meeting last year.

Aziz expressed wonder at the “inordinate delay” by India in resuming foreign secretary-level talks.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after 2013 general elections had announced an economic and social development roadmap for the country through developing good relations with the neighbours, including India. Under this policy, Mr Sharif went to India and took part in the oath-taking ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Aziz said.

During their meeting on May 27, 2014, both premiers agreed to resume foreign secretary-level talks.

“And on August 25, subsequently India conveyed to us about sending its foreign secretary to Islamabad in this regard,” he said.

When Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Islamabad, he was on a goodwill visit to SAARC countries and that only SAARC-related matters were discussed by him during his visit in March, Aziz said.

India had cancelled foreign secretary-level talks in August last year because the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi held consultations with Kashmiri separatists.

No date has been fixed for next round of foreign- secretary-level talks.

More than 1,700 Indian Sikhs have come here to take part in Baisakhi festivities.

Aziz also talked about Pakistan’s efforts to protect the rights of minorities in the country.

“Now every Sikh or Hindu knows well that Pakistan is doing a lot for them. And the Baisakhi, I will say it represents an unending friendship between Sikhs and Muslims,” he said.

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