External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is on a visit to Pakistan, is seen as breaking the ice between the two countries. Extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, she said it was time the two countries display “maturity and self-confidence” to do business with each other.
She attended an hour-long dinner and cultural event, hosted by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz.
Swaraj said that she wanted the relations between both the countries to improve and she would hold talks to accomplish this task.
Sartaj Aziz greeted Swaraj warmly and both the leaders got engaged in a brief conversation. Aziz later sat next to Swaraj. Swaraj is in Islamabad on a two-day visit, primarily to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ 5th
Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan. Swaraj met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today and hold talks with her counterpart Sartaj Aziz.
Earlier, Aziz had said that the deadlock in Indo-Pak ties has eased to an extent from the earlier situation when the two countries were exchanging war of words.
He said the bilateral talks will focus on resumption of the composite dialogue process between the two countries.
Swaraj’s visit was made possible because of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Paris on the sidelines of the Climate Change summit. The brief meeting was facilitated
by the UK.
Swaraj said that since Heart of Asia ministerial meeting is happening in Pakistan, it is necessary and appropriate for her to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hold talks with her counterpart Sartaz Aziz to talk about improving the bilateral ties and take them forward.
“What happens during the talks will be known after the meeting,” she said.
Addressing the conference, Swaraj said that India is willing to join hands with Pakistan and Afghanistan to strengthen regional trade, and gave list of steps that Delhi is willing to take to boost commerce in the region. “India’s vision of the Heart of Asia is one of interlinked trade, transit, energy & communication routes, with Afghanistan as an important hub,” she said, referring to the centuries-old Grand Trunk Road built by Sher Shah Suri to underscore India and Afghanistan’s shared destiny. Swaraj also extended the hand of friendship towards Pakistan, saying New Delhi is willing to move on co-operation at a pace Islamabad is comfortable with.
Speaking on the need to combat terror jointly, she praised the efforts of the Afghan national security forces in combating extremism. “Terror hubs shouldn’t be allowed anywhere,” she emphasised.
Swaraj is the first Indian minister to visit Pakistan since the BJP came to power last year. The theme of the meeting, jointly hosted by Pakistan and Afghanistan, is ‘Heart of Asia—Istanbul Process: Enhanced cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the Heart of Asia region’. Swaraj’s presence at the Islamabad summit on Afghanistan is being seen as a ray of hope among the growing trust- deficit and scepticism of past.