Pak envoy meets Sushma in 1st high-level contact in months

BK Online/ Srinagar
October 21, 2017 BREAKING NEWS 248 Views
Pak envoy meets Sushma in 1st high-level contact in months

In what is effectively the first high-level contact between India and Pakistan in months, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj met Pakistan high commissioner Sohail Mahmood, official sources confirmed to TOI.
Swaraj discussed the current state of affairs in bilateral relations with Mahmood, who officially took charge as Pakistan’s envoy to India only last month. Swaraj also touched upon India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism and asked Islamabad to quickly bring to book the accused in Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks.
Sources said the meeting with Mahmood took place earlier this week on Monday after her office was approached by the Pakistan envoy who replaced Abdul Basit. Swaraj is also learnt to have mentioned the need for Pakistan to review its position on Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian national in Pakistan’s custody on alleged spying charges.
The government believes that for any progress in bilateral relations, Pakistan must drop all charges against Jadhav and send him back to India. Jadhav’s case is currently being heard by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which earlier this year put a stay on the death sentence awarded to him by a Pakistani military court.
This was Mahmood’s first meeting with a top government functionary after arriving in India. He is expected to meet NSA Ajit Doval and foreign secretary S Jaishankar in the next few days.
It is perhaps significant that days after the meeting – on Diwali – Swaraj announced that India will clear all medical visas sought by Pakistani nationals as a goodwill gesture.
Swaraj has also appealed to Islamabad to allow Jadhav’s mother to visit Pakistan and see her son. Pakistan is yet to grant visa to her. The government had earlier decided to entertain only those medical visa applications which were endorsed by the Pakistan foreign minister. Under Swaraj, earning a lot of goodwill for India internationally, MEA has taken a more compassionate view of visa applications from Pakistani nationals who genuinely need medical assistance.
This is significant also because it comes after India aggressively tagged Pakistan as ‘terroristan’ at the UN General Assembly. For India though, any engagement with Pakistan, according to official sources, is unlikely until Pakistan takes some tangible action on terrorism and until it softens its stand on Jadhav.
Both countries are preparing to host US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson next week and Pakistan’s support to cross-border terrorism will be on top of New Delhi’s agenda.(ToI)

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