In the midst of tensions in Indo-Pak ties following the Pulwama terror attack in February, civil society representatives from the two countries held a ‘Track II’ dialogue in Islamabad at which delegates from both sides called for improving cross-border connectivity and trade and people-to-people exchanges.
The two-day dialogue ‘Beyond Politics and Polemics: New Beginning on a Difficult Trail’, concluded on Saturday. It was convened by the Islamabad-based Regional Peace Institute (RPI).
Reports in the Pakistani media suggested that there were six delegates from India participating in the dialogue. They are also understood to have met Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria. Incidentally, Bisaria had recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and briefed him on the developments in Indo-Pak ties.
However, a source in New Delhi clarified that India had nothing do with the dialogue. There was no official-level representation from India at the dialogue which was purely a civil society-led initiative.
New Delhi has already stated time and again, especially since the Pulwama attack, that there was no question of resuming talks with Pakistan until the neighbouring country stops promoting cross-border terrorism.
Raoof Hasan, the founder of the Regional Peace Institute, was quoted as saying: “Track-II diplomacy is the first step to improve relations between the governments of both the countries,” adding that the main objective of the meet was to bring the youth of the two countries towards peace.
Hasan also tweeted: “Here we are finally trying to untangle the tricky knot! It is always the scent of possibilities that sustains my hope for the future.” The organisers propose to hold the next round of dialogue in New Delhi in September.
Pakistan’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas, addressing the dialogue, called for greater people to people contacts between the two countries to normalise bilateral ties.