NEW DELHI: Prime Minister’s special envoy Shaharyar M. Khan met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Indian capital on Friday and conveyed Pakistan’s sincere desire to move forward on improving relations with India.
According to a statement released by the Pakistan High Commission, he also delivered a letter from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif containing warm expressions of goodwill and good wishes for Dr Singh, the government and people of India.
The statement said that the letter also conveyed Pakistan’s “sincere desire to move forward on improving relations with India. These sentiments were warmly reciprocated by (Mr) Singh.
The special envoy also met National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai. He will also call on External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
Khan’s meeting with Dr Singh comes after Khurshid’s talks with Sharif’s Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in the Brunei capital Bandar Seri Begawan on Thursday. The two sides had decided to resume official-level peace talks within the next two-three months.
Both sides, according to local reports, are also working on arranging a meeting between the prime ministers. It is important, according to Aziz, to ensure that talks get the necessary political momentum.
Trade has been the main driver of the India-Pakistan peace process, which had stalled after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The renewed dialogue started in February 2011 and has yielded a liberalised visa policy for increased people-to-people contact and fostering trade, besides a considerably shorter negative list of products embargoed for trade between the neighbours.
Soon after Mr Sharif’s election as prime minister on May 12, Dr Singh had sent India’s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Satinder K. Lambah, to Lahore to meet the winner.
Staff Reporter in Islamabad adds: The government has appointed Ambassador Khan as its pointman for Track II diplomacy with India.
“The prime minister has given Ambassador Shaharyar Khan the responsibility of conducting Track II diplomacy in order to improve our ties with India,” Foreign Office Spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said at a media briefing.
“Track II diplomacy has been a part of the overall peace process between Pakistan and India, and complements the bilateral efforts for peace,” Chaudhry said.
The PML-N government’s strategy is to deal with softer issues like trade and people-to-people contact in the official dialogue, leaving the more difficult issues like Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek to backchannel discussions between ambassadors Khan and Lambah.