Indo-Pak Foreign Secretaries to Meet in January

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Islamabad: India is now clearly more confident of engaging with Pakistan. Pakistan on Friday announced that foreign secretaries would meet next month to prepare for Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

According to official sources, the cue for this meeting came from another meeting which Pakistan’s ‘first daughter’, who is seen as being groomed for leadership by Sharif, recently had with Michelle Obama, marking her first appearance on the international stage.

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Aziz told Pakistan Parliament on Friday that foreign secretaries will meet next month to work out the details of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and the level of interaction in various working groups. Apart from J&K, terrorism will also be part of the agenda for talks.

Pakistan authorities approached the Indian side for a meeting between Swaraj and Maryam, said Indian government sources. Swaraj was quick to oblige and after attending Sharif’s lunch for Heart of Asia delegates drove to Sharif’s official address for a meeting with Maryam. There she met Maryam, her kids and also Sharif’s mother.

Swaraj met Sharif immediately after her meeting with Maryam and, as she walked into the room, set the ball rolling by announcing, “Nawaz saheb, aaj mai aap ke parivaar ke four generations ka saath mil ke aa rahi hoon.” This apparently put everybody at ease and set the tone for a conversation which saw both leaders making liberal use of Punjabi and Urdu.

Buoyed by the success of the NSA meeting in Bangkok, and with assurances from Sharif himself that he would not allow terror groups to target India, Swaraj and Sharif’s foreign affairs adviser scripted a remarkable turnaround in relations with their declaration that the composite dialogue process was being revived.

While there was some concern in Islamabad that the non-inclusion of Samjhauta attack in the joint statement could again put the Sharif government in a pillory after what happened in Ufa, where Sharif was accused of ignoring Kashmir, so far the breakthrough on Wednesday has held out well.

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