Dushanbe conclave: India not keen on talks with Pak

The foreign ministers of the two countries will get yet another opportunity for meeting this week on the sidelines of a multilateral conclave in Dushanbe

India is not keen on to start bilateral engagement with Pakistan now, although the foreign ministers of the two countries will get yet another opportunity for meeting this week – on the sidelines of a multilateral conclave in Dushanbe.

External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, and Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, are likely to attend a meeting of the Heads of Government Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the capital of Tajikistan on Thursday and Friday.

Russia and China, which run the show in the SCO, may use the opportunity to nudge India to explore restarting its stalled bilateral engagement with Pakistan.

New Delhi, however, is likely to resist as it is not keen to give it a try now, sources told the DH.

The first opportunity for a bilateral engagement between India and Pakistan after the change of regime in the neighbouring country came last month when both Swaraj and Qureshi were in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. New Delhi first accepted a proposal from Islamabad for a meeting on the sideline of the UNGA, but called off the proposed engagement just a day later, accusing the “entities” based in the neighbouring countries of killing three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and glorifying slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by issuing a postage stamp. This was followed by a war of words between India and Pakistan at the UNGA.

The SCO meet at Dushanbe on Thursday and Friday is coming as yet another opportunity for a bilateral engagement between Swaraj and Qureshi. They will, in fact, take part in a banquet hosted by Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon on Thursday in honour of the leaders of the delegations representing the SCO member nations in the conclave. External Affairs Minister and Pakistani Foreign Minister will join the representatives of the other nations for the main sessions of the SCO Heads of Government Council meeting on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government is not keen to take a political risk by restarting the stalled India-Pakistan parleys at a time, when five states are set to go to polls between November 12 and December 7, and the next parliamentary elections just a few months away. Any attack by terrorists based in Pakistan on India after the resumption of stalled dialogue would provide the Congress and other opposition parties another reason to criticize Modi and his government.

New Delhi was filled with “cautious hope” after Tehreek E Insaaf came to power in Pakistan, with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan as the prime minister of the new government. Modi did reach out to Khan and a “political window” for engagement between the two nations appeared to have opened up. The war of words between the two nations at the UNGA last month, however, dashed the hope for early restart of the dialogue, which remains stalled since 2013.

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Dushanbe conclave: India not keen on talks with Pak

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