Former Indian diplomats, military officials held secret meeting with Pakistani side in a five star hotel in Islamabad: Report
NEW DELHI - A group of former Indian diplomats, military veterans and academics travelled to Pakistan last weekend for "relationship talks" that form part of track II diplomacy between the two countries dating back to the 1991-92 "Neemrana Dialogue".
The group of 14 was led by former foreign ministry secretary Vivek Katju and included a former cabinet secretary and a former naval chief. The Pakistani delegation featured former minister Javed Jabbar, former foreign secretary Inamul Haque, and the former State Bank of Pakistan governor, Ishrat Hussain, among others.
The meetings took place at a hotel in Islamabad. The Indian delegation was hosted for dinner by the Pakistan Foreign Secretary. Sources told NDTV that the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan also hosted the Pakistanis the next day.
"We have seen the reports. This is a meeting between two civil societies. Functional exchanges continue. It is part of the normal process," said a foreign ministry spokesperson in Delhi today.
Many believe the revival of track II diplomacy means a realisation in the government that absolutely no engagement <link> with Pakistan doesn't work. But government sources said "they were not involved in these talks, these are discussions that have happened in the past as well, the government has no reservations on track II diplomacy."
Positive signs of back-channel talks have been visible for a few days now. On Monday, the Pakistan Navy delivered medical assistance to an Indian boat which developed engine problems and was lost at sea. The fishermen were close to running out of food and water after their boat developed engine problems nine days back.
What is most significant is that Pakistan and India will participate in joint military exercises under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) banner in Russia this September.
The Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson said on the exercises, "It'll be focused on providing counter-terrorism expertise, hopefully this will be a good forum to exchange information and expertise."
Pakistan sources also said today that an Indian prisoner, Jetindra, was being sent back to India through Wagah on humanitarian grounds.