IMRAN KHAN WINS FIRST INDO-PAKISTANI TALKS FOR THREE YEARS




Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE)- As soon as he was appointed, the New Pakistani prime minister wrote to his Indian counterpart to press for a revival of contacts.

Pakistan and India will hold their first high-level talks in years next week after Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart saying he wanted to restart dialogue.

The meeting of foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly will come nearly three years after the rupture of previous contacts following a militant assault on an Indian airbase.

The meeting came to light a day after Prime Minister Khan visited Saudi Arabia and the UAE on his first foreign tour since taking office in August.

While in the UAE, Mr. Khan spoke to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, on his desire for peace and stability in the region and especially for dialogue with India to resolve of all disputes, particularly Kashmir, Pakistan's foreign ministry said.

The main bone of contention is Kashmir, which is divided between the two countries and is claimed by both, and Islamabad's alleged failure to crack down on Pakistan-based militant groups carrying out attacks in India.

Despite India agreeing to the meeting at the UN's New York headquarters, New Delhi remains highly skeptical of a positive outcome, sources told Reuters.

Mr. Khan's letter to Narendra Modi said he wanted to resume a formal talks process held under his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, called the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

Those talks raised hopes for progress as Mr. Modi travelled to Pakistan in December 2015 to discuss their differences.

But the process ended in recriminations days later when militants attacked India's Pathankot airbase, killing seven security personnel and a civilian in an assault that lasted four days.

New Delhi subsequently blamed the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, and accuses Islamabad of failing to act despite being given a dossier of evidence.

India interpreted the attack as a deliberate attempt by Pakistan's security apparatus to derail the talks process and has since largely cut off diplomatic contact.

India also blamed Pakistan for financing the deadly 2008 militant attacks in Mumbai.

However, the new talks are a sign that there is increasing realization on both sides of common interests, especially in the light of the Trump administrations aggressive sanctions policies and brazen indifference to the welfare of friends and allies.