India on Thursday asserted that there was no dilution in its stand on talks with Pakistan even as civil societies of the two countries revived the Track II diplomatic initiative by holding the ‘Neemrana Dialogue’ in Islamabad from 28-30 April after a hiatus of three years.
‘’Our stand is very clear and consistent…terror and talks cannot go together,’’ External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing here. He said exchanges like the ‘Neemrana Dialogue’ were part of the normal processes between civil societies of the two countries. People-to-people contacts between the two countries had continued and there was nothing new in such exchanges. In this connection, the spokesperson also drew attention to the regular meetings between DGMOs of the two countries.
Asked if the ‘Neemrana Dialogue’ had the blessings of the Indian Government, he said he would not like to get drawn into a debate on a dialogue between civil societies of the two countries. ‘’The only thing you need for such dialogues is a valid visa,’’ he added. It is understood that the initiative for the ‘Neemrana Dialogue’ was taken by Pakistan. The meeting enabled both countries to restart the oldest non-government initiative in its original form.
The nine-member delegation from the Indian side was headed by former Cabinet Secretary Surendra Singh. It also included former diplomats Vivek Katju and Rakesh Sood. The ten-member Pakistani delegation was led by former Foreign Secretary Inam ul Haq. Both sides put forth their points of view. The discussions were constructive and focused on culture, people-to-people exchanges and trade.
Sources said the issue of terrorism also came up during the dialogue. The Indian side put its view forward and explained India’s stand on why talks and terror can’t go together. Pakistani delegates, on their part, tried to explain the efforts the country has made to combat terrorism.